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Sunrise Adventure Session in the North Cascades

Updated: Jul 14, 2022

A bride and groom are laughing and smiling as they sit on a rock on the side of a mountain while watching the sunrise during their Mount Baker wedding

PNW Mountain Elopement | Mt. Baker Wedding Inspiration

Bianca & Harper wanted to have an incredible adventure before their intimate wedding this fall doing something they loved- hiking in the mountains, exploring somewhere new together! Their first date was a hike, they got engaged on a sunrise hike, and a lot of their favorite memories together were from hiking, backpacking, and snowshoeing-so it made sense for them to celebrate this new chapter of their lives together on a hike!

They decided to have an adventure at one of my all time favorite trails in the world in the North Cascades! The trail they chose starts at two beautifully blue alpine lakes surrounded by trees (and in the height of summer, wildflowers). The trail starts in a bit of trees, and works its way up the mountain with near continuous views of the mountain ranges. The higher you hike up, the better the views get. With views of jagged, granite mountain peaks, alpine lakes, Mount Baker, tons of little side trails to explore, and when the time is right, wild blueberries line the trail that are absolutely delicious! When you get to the top of the mountain, you're greeted with an old fire lookout and out of this world 360 degree views of a sea of mountains- it's an absolutely breathtaking sight to see and a perfect spot to elope.

A bride and groom are exploring around a mountaintop near Mount Baker at sunrise during their elopement

We met at the trailhead the night before and car camped under the stars so we could get an early start the next morning. We started hiking in the dark, under the full moon (it was so bright we almost didn’t need our headlamps!), chatting in the brisk morning air. After getting to the top, we had some time to settle in before dawn and we got treated to one of the most phenomenal sunrises ever.

They cozied up in one of their favorite blankets, drank hot apple cider with whiskey, explored all around the top of the mountain, took in the beautiful 360 degree views of endless mountains, shared lots of jokes & laughter, had a snowball fight (even in late July, there's still patches of snow to be found high up in the mountains!), and soaked in every single moment together. They had such a fun, joking relationship, they had me cracking up the entire morning with their stories and personalities. With the early start on the morning, and it being a weekday we were lucky enough to have the trail almost entirely to ourselves during their whole adventure!

A dried flower bouquet and whiskey in front of mountains for a North Cascades elopement

A couple is hiking in the mountains at sunrise during their Mount Baker wedding

Like North Cascades Photo Sessions? Check out this North Cascades Adventure Session!

Their adventure left me feeling so fulfilled and full of joy- one of those days leaving me feeling so lucky to have my dream job where days like this is “going into the office”.

A couple cuddles up with one another and gazes at Mount Baker on their sunrise elopement day

Things to consider for your North Cascades National Park elopement

1. Know when is the best time of year to go

If you want to elope in North Cascades National Park, I highly recommend that you plan your elopement for the summer or early fall! In springtime, there still will be a lot of snowfall which will limit the amount of trails and roads that you can access. When the snow is melting and its in stage of a combination of slushy, dirty snow and mud, it's less than ideal. Some areas of the park are accessible and are beautiful as early as June, while other higher elevation areas are best to wait until late-July! In my opinion, August & September are the two best months to elope in the North Cascades! The weather is beautiful, the days are long, and August brings beautiful wildflowers all around.

2. Consider eloping on a weekday

Another thing to consider for your North Cascades elopement is to elope on a weekday. If you're looking for more privacy and seclusion during your vows and your day in general, I HIGHLY suggest that you select a weekday to avoid the worst of the crowds. Folks in Washington love to hike, and most people get out on the weekend! Even though the North Cascades are one of the least visited National Parks in the U.S., it still gets quite a bit of visitors. Eloping on a weekday really helps to cut down on the traffic and the amount of people you see on the trails! You can also help this by going to the lesser known spots. An experienced photographer and adventurer can help you find a spot that has less traffic and more room to explore with different view points. The North Cascades is one of my all-time favorite areas to explore in Washington and I'd love to show you all of my favorite trails and help you plan your elopement. Contact me and we can get started!

3. Research trails and read trip reports

When deciding on a specific spot to elope, I recommend that you use a variety of resources to research trails. I also suggest you read past trip reports to get a feel for the level of expected privacy and seclusion, the views you'll have, when the snow melts, and when the weather is best. Your photographer should help you with all of this! Personally, I custom location scout for all of my couples to help them find their perfect place to say their vows.

My favorite places to research trails are Washington Trails Association, Alltrails, and Google Earth. I also recommend reading trip reports in the weeks leading up to your elopement so you know if there are any problems like road closures, mudslides, inaccessibility due to late snowmelt, fires, etc. Lastly, when looking at the North Cascades, I always suggest to expand into the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest for a Mount Baker wedding! Some of my very favorite spots to hike and explore are actually outside the National Park boundaries.

4. Leave No Trace

A very important thing to take into consideration when planning your elopement at North Cascades National Park is Leave No Trace. Leave No Trace is a set of outdoor ethics and best practices that we should all follow to not only enjoy our public lands, but to protect them as well. Simply put, leave it better than you found it! There are 7 principles that you should definitely check out if you haven't before.

5. If you elope inside the National Park make sure to get a permit

Lastly, when you elope inside of the North Cascades National Park boundaries, you will need to apply for a special use permit. You will need to apply for this WELL in advance as the park gets very busy and it takes a long time to receive your permit back. The application fee is $50 and must be applied for at least four weeks in advance, however I suggest applying for it much earlier. Additionally, your photographer will need a CUA, which is a yearly permit and must be applied for well in advance too. If you are eloping outside of the National Park boundaries, in the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest (where most of my very favorite elopement spots are!), you will still need to apply for a permit. However, as of right now it is free to apply for.

Do you want to have an incredible adventure in North Cascades National Park for your elopement?

A couple kisses in front of granite mountain peaks and two alpine lakes during their North Cascades hiking elopement


Want More Resources?

Learn what it's really like to elope with these stories & helpful advice from couples who've previously eloped!

Are your best memories forged on dirt roads and switchbacks? Do you dream of being in nature instead of being indoors on your wedding day? Learn how to plan your backpacking elopement and get tons of advice!


An elopement photographer after photographing an Artist Point elopement

Hire a Photographer for Your North Cascades Elopement Photos

Hi! My name is Kathleen and I'm an adventure wedding and elopement photographer (and your new friend!). I'm here to help guide you to having the ultimate wedding day experience, and to document every single moment of it. I would love to help you plan your elopement and answer any questions you may have! Learn more about me or my North Cascades Elopement Packages.

Get in touch with me and let's start planning your dream adventure.

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