By far one of my all time favorite locations in Washington State, the North Cascades are not only breathtaking but they’re also a hidden gem with over 300 glaciers! I always recommend North Cascades National Park to my clients wanting those dramatic mountain views. But that’s not all the North Cascades have, you can go from glaciers, to forests, to mountain tops in a flash. This guide will give you all of the information you could need to elope in the North Cascades.
Because the majority of the park sits at a high elevation, most areas are inaccessible between October~May. In the highest elevation locations, snow can last until mid-July so unless you plan to pack up snowshoes, keep this in mind when planning your mountaintop elopement!
While summer is warmer and a little bit more predictable than winter, it’s always good to be prepared for inclement weather–always bring warm clothes, good hiking shoes, and a rain coat (it is Washington after all). If you time it right in early fall, you may get to see stunning fall colors. But with that comes more crowds because, who doesn’t want to see that stunning landscape with autumnal vibes?
The North Cascades are located pretty far north in Washington State, basically sitting on the border of Canada. It’s about an hour outside of Bellingham, Washington and three hours north of Seattle. Keep these travel times in mind when planning your North Cascades elopement. Many people don’t realize you can’t just fly in and take an Uber. For my out-of-state couples, I recommend flying into Sea-Tac airport, renting a car, and driving North. While Bellingham does have an airport, it’s extremely small and tickets are much more costly.
While the entire area is gorgeous, most of my clients who choose the North Cascades are wanting epic mountain views. The kind of views that make your jaw literally drop. Don’t worry, I’ve gathered all of the best locations that will do just that.
The most well known, and obvious, location is Artist Point. Sitting at 5,100 feet of elevation and with stunning views of Mt. Baker AND Mt. Shuksan, you will definitely get your mountain fix here. There’s a $5 vehicle fee per day and no camping is allowed from May~November. This location is stunning and extremely accessible (good for those who want to bring family for their special day). Because of the accessibility, Artist Point is basically always packed full of people during the summer months. If you’re wanting more privacy, I’d suggest a sunrise elopement; or be prepared for a lot of people walking by and congratulating you!
Word to the wise: if you are afraid of heights, don’t look down! To get to Artist Point, you need to take SR542 east from Glacier and this road is not for the faint of heart. With that being said, the views are stunning the entire drive up, and even better at the top.
This trail is right off of the Artist Point parking lot and takes you to a variety of alpine lakes in the National Park. With stunning mountain views, and a little bit more privacy than Artist Point, you can’t go wrong here. The entire chain lakes loop trail is about 7 miles but there are plenty of stopping points to exchange vows and have a carefree picnic.
With the level of hiking needed for these lakes, I find it best to keep these elopements more intimate or only include those who are physically fit to do the hike.
Another easily accessible location with jaw-dropping views that the whole family can enjoy. There’s a 0.3-mile paved path to the overlook of Liberty Bell Mountain and it’s definitely worth the walk. Easily accessible also comes hand in hand with crowded, but like most places there are more private spots to duck away from the crowds.
Getting married in Washington state is pretty straightforward. A few things to note:
You can find the King County marriage license here.
If you choose a location within the National Park, you will need a special use permit. Acquiring a permit is pretty simple:
If you choose a location within the National Forest but not within the National Park, you do not need a permit if you have less than 75 guests! It’s incredibly important to be sure you are educated of the requirements and that you have all the proper permit information. Please remember ignorance is not an excuse when it comes to the law!
While the North Cascades are gorgeous, and extremely popular in the summer time, accommodations can be hard to come by. The closest “city” would be Bellingham, which is about an hour and a half from Artist Point. Glacier is a smaller but closer town with a plethora of vacation rentals (Check AirBnB, VRBO, etc.)
Scroll down to see more from this epic North Cascade Elopement: