North Cascades Elopement Guide

Eloping in North Cascades is one of the most iconic places to elope in Washington State, for good reason too. The North Cascades has epic mountain peaks, pristine alpine lakes, and lush evergreen forests, providing a stunning backdrop for your wedding day. If you’re thinking about planning a North Cascades elopement, then you came to the right place! This is also one of the least visited national parks in the U.S., which is mind-blowing to us!

With its diverse landscapes, couples can choose from a variety of scenic spots, from panoramic overlooks to serene lakeside settings, making for a unique elopement experience. Couples can elope there year-round, depending on what they want their elopement day to look like. Whether you want to appreciate the golden hues of autumn or adventure through a blanket of snow in winter, each season in North Cascades adds its own magical touch to your elopement. 

We’ll break down everything you need to know to have an epic wedding day at North Cascades. We will discuss places to elope in the Cascades, the best time and season to plan your wedding, marriage license and permit information, and our awesome featured vendors who specialize in North Cascade elopements and intimate weddings!

How to Elope in North Cascades National Park

  1. Pick a place to elope in North Cascades
  2. Choose the best time and season to elope in North Cascades
  3. Get your marriage license and permit
  4. Hire a North Cascades elopement photographer
  5. Decide where you’re staying near North Cascades

Places to Elope in North Cascades

North Cascades is located about 3 hours north of Seattle and has almost 400 miles of trails within and around the forest with some of the most picturesque views you can ask for. There are more than 120 alpine lakes, 300 glaciers, and plenty of spots that are also dog-friendly. With this in mind, we are going to share our top places to elope in North Cascades, but we always recommend checking in with your elopement vendor for more remote locations within the park not many tourists may know about.

If you’re planning to include your pet during your North Cascade elopement, keep in mind that dogs and pets are not allowed within the national park. They are allowed on a leash in a handful of areas including surrounding national forest lands. Please check with the Wilderness Information Center at 360-854-7245 for any doubts or questions. 

Washington Pass Overlook

Sometimes you need a spot to appreciate an epic sunset, and that just happens to be Washington Pass Overlook. This is another accessible option with a small loop trail that is actually ADA-accessible. This makes a great spot for a micro wedding, especially with older family members.


If you’re looking for a relaxing mountain town, then check out Stehekin. This area is only accessible through hiking, horseback, or a boat ride from Lake Chelan. We personally recommend a boat ride, which is a little over an hour long. It’s a great place to not only plan your elopement adventure nearby but to also stay and maybe honeymoon together! It’s perfect for the couple who wants to relax, sip on some tea, watch the sunrise, and just lounge around. You’ll be surrounded by peaks of the North Cascades within this valley that Stehekin calls home.

Alpine Lakes

As we mentioned before, North Cascades has over 120 alpine lakes to explore. They are scattered throughout the park, within different winding trails. Some of these alpine lakes are more accessible than others. Some are completely remote, and you’ll need the help of a professional elopement vendor to navigate your way to it. We love elopements with a lake view because you get to see those epic mountain peaks reflecting in the water. 

A note regarding Diablo Lake

Diablo Lake is not available for elopement photos and ceremonies in the meadow area. This used to be a really popular spot for a lot of couples. You’ll probably still see a bunch of photos floating around social media featuring this location, but the National Park Service is not giving out special use permits for this area. If you really want to pay a visit to Diablo Lake, then you can take a few photos from the regular viewing area (it’s the traditional viewing point where visitors look out within a wall). 

Fire Lookouts

Fire lookouts at North Cascades National Park are probably some of the best elopements we have seen. You get to appreciate some incredible views in a location with a cool history. There are three main fire lookouts in the Cascades mountains, including Sourdough Mountain and Park Butte. Because of their high location, pack warmly because it does get cold up there. We also love fire lookouts for your Cascade elopement because you can get away from it all within this little fire lookout, truly taking in your PNW wedding adventure.

Areas Near North Cascades National Park

Artist Point

Photography by More Van Anything

By far one of the most popular elopement spots near the Cascade Mountains is Artist Point. You’ll find this location just outside the national park in the forest, where you’ll get gorgeous mountain views of Mount Shuksan and Mount Baker, alpine lakes, and meadows. Picture Lake is another great spot to elope, and it’s an easy walk to and from Artist Point.

Artist Point is a drive-up spot, so it’s a good accessible option if you want to include some guests for your elopement ceremony. Even though this spot does get pretty crowded because of the ease of getting there, your elopement photographer should know of a couple of areas you can explore where you’ll be able to escape the crowds. This spot is dog-friendly.

Chain Lakes Loop Trail

Chain Lakes Loop Trial is a popular hiking trail in the park. It’s a moderate hike, a 6.2-mile loop near Maple Falls. This is a great spot to adventure and even camp if you want. There are blue lakes, wildflower meadows, forests, and of course, mountain views. If you like the vibe of this area, then chat with your photographer if they know about a lesser-known trail in the area. 

The Best Time and Season to Elope in North Cascades

Navigating when to elope in North Cascades is probably one of the top priorities when it comes to planning your wedding day there. According to the national park’s website, the easiest weather to navigate is usually between mid-Jun and late-September. We prefer Fall elopements here. Summers are great, but they are more crowded.

You’ll want to prepare for rain because it is common, especially wind. If you’re planning a winter elopement in the Cascade Mountains, then expect heavy snow and rain. Our best advice is to pack in lots of layers (there can even be some snow in July at some of the highest trails), and to double-check with the park’s website for any updates on trail closures.

A good thing to remember is the western side of the park is usually wetter, with dramatic peaks and more greenery, while the eastern side is drier but equally as epic. 

Summers in North Cascades – Warmer weather, most of the snow has melted and gone by mid-July, and wildflowers in the mountains. 

Fall in North Cascades – Larch season, changing leaves, comfortable weather for layers to explore.

Spring in North Cascades – Unpredictable. It can rain or snow. Still beautiful, but prepare for a potentially muddy elopement.

Winter in North Cascades – Lots of snow and cold. Great for winter wonderland vibes. The higher elevation trails do usually close during the winter.

Sunrise Elopements in North Cascades:


  • Unique Atmosphere: The soft morning light can create a tranquil and magical setting for your ceremony.
  • The symbolism of New Beginnings: Sunrise symbolizes new beginnings, making it a meaningful choice for couples looking to start their married life in a unique way.
  • Fewer Crowds: Generally, fewer people are present during sunrise, allowing for a more intimate and private ceremony.
  • Milder Temperatures: Morning temperatures may be cooler than midday, providing more comfort for you and your guests, especially during warmer months.


  • Early Start: Getting married at sunrise means an early start to the day. This might be challenging for you both if you’re not early risers or if you have guests joining you.
  • Weather Uncertainty: Morning weather can be unpredictable, and there may be a risk of fog or overcast conditions, potentially affecting visibility if you’re planning a high-altitude hike.

Sunset Elopements in North Cascades:


  • Warm and Romantic Lighting: Sunsets offer warm and romantic lighting with vibrant colors.
  • Popular Timing: Sunset weddings are a popular choice for outdoor events. The warm hues and the gradual fading of light make it a picturesque and visually appealing time.
  • Comfortable Temperatures: Evening temperatures are often more comfortable, making it enjoyable for both the couple and guests. This can be crucial, especially in warmer months.


  • Crowded Locations: Popular spots within the park might be busier during sunset, as it is a preferred time for visitors. This could impact the privacy of your ceremony.
  • Weather Uncertainty: Like sunrise, sunset weather can be unpredictable. There may be a risk of sudden temperature drops or unexpected weather conditions.

We love both sunrise and sunset elopements at North Cascades, BUT we do recommend making sure your photographer has experience in the location and time of day you want to elope. With mountains, it’s important to know which way the sun will hit to avoid crazy shadows or extreme sunlight.

WA Marriage License, Special Use Permits, and Leaving No Trace at North Cascades National Park

Videography by TRUE NORTHWEST Weddings

It’s important to stay up to date with the latest permit information from the park. It’s important to note that while we try to provide the most up-to-date information, permits are subject to change at any time. Locations that were once allowed to visit and take elopement photos can also become unavailable at a moment’s notice. Please be prepared to pivot and change plans if this does happen to you. This is why it’s so important to work with a professional elopement vendor in the area.

How to get your special use permit for North Cascades

Besides teaming up with an experienced vendor for this national park, obtaining your special use permit should be a top priority. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Fill out an application and pay a $50 special use permit application fee. This can be done online on the NPS website. Keep in mind your permit requires about four weeks to process, so do this in advance! You can actually apply for a permit up to a year in advance. 
  2. Once reviewed, the Park Service will send you back a permit draft to sign and review. 
  3. Once signed, your permit is ready to go. Just bring it with you on your elopement day.

Leaving No Trace During Your Wedding Day in the Cascade Mountains

Obtaining your permit is not the only thing you need to consider. You’ll also want to remember to leave no trace and leave the area even better than you found it. Leaving no trace during your elopement ensures other couples and visitors can explore national parks in the future without any issues. 

Here are some things to remember:

  1. Stay only on trails, going off trail will hurt the delicate ecosystem. This includes not going through meadows, especially when wildflowers are in bloom (as tempting as it might sound). 
  2. If you’re bringing your pet, make sure you are on a pet-friendly trail. These are usually within surrounding national forests. Once you pick out a trail they could join you in, make sure to pick up after your pet.
  3. Pack extra trash bags to pick up after yourselves.
  4. Make sure not to have your wedding guests throw any confetti, rice, etc. 

Obtaining a Marriage License in Washington

If you’re planning to have a legal wedding ceremony at North Cascades National Park, then remember to apply for your marriage license! The license itself is about $69. 

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Washington has a three-day waiting period, so you can’t get married the same day you get your license.
  2. You have 60 days to use your license.
  3. You can apply for a marriage license in any county of Washington State and use it anywhere within WA. However, you’ll need to return it to the same county you first applied.
  4. You’ll need an officiant and two witnesses to make your wedding ceremony official. Some elopement photographers double as an officiant, and you can always ask some hikers passing by to be witnesses if you want a just-us wedding day. 

Hire a North Cascades Elopement Vendor

As you put your North Cascade elopement package together, the best advice we can give you is to team up with someone who has experience planning and documenting elopements at this National Park. These featured vendors below are the perfect resource when it comes to remote elopement locations and epic portrait locations in North Cascades. They are the best people to ask what you should pack, what time and season are best for your specific vision, and provide example timelines with any must-have activities you want in there. 

What should you do now? Put together a rough draft of how you want your elopement to look in the Pacific Northwest, including the information we provided you with here. Once you connect with one of our awesome vendors below, you can present them with your “vision” and any concerns you may have. They’ll be happy to help, and can’t wait to go adventuring with you!

Places to Stay During Your North Cascades Elopement 

North Cascade Campgrounds (5 serviced campgrounds to pick from)

Ross Lake Resort

Mountain Springs Lodge

North Cascades Lodge at Stehekin


Ready to Plan Your Elopement?

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