If you’re dreaming of a scenic elopement surrounded by beautiful mountain views but you’re not sure where the best place to elope is, this guide is for you! I’m going to provide you with everything you need to start planning your mountain elopement, even if you have no idea where to start. 

You’ll learn about the best mountain locations to elope at in the U.S., how to plan your day, what permits you may need, and more!

Before we dive in, let me introduce myself. I’m Tiana, an elopement photographer and avid explorer. I grew up in Washington and now reside in Idaho, so I’ve spent my entire life exploring epic mountains! My goal is to provide you with everything you need to plan your own beautiful elopement. If you find yourself needing an extra hand planning your adventure wedding and want someone to document your experience, contact me and let’s work together!

Couple kissing by a lake surrounded by mountains on their elopement day in Idaho.

What is a Mountain Elopement

A mountain elopement is an intimate wedding in the mountains. It can include hiking to a serene location to share vows in private or celebrating with your closest family and friends surrounded by beautiful views easily accessed via a short walk.

Elopements are all about creating a personalized wedding experience, often times with a touch of adventure.

Learn more about the modern definition of “elope” here.

Reasons to Have a Mountain Elopement

  • Your dream wedding venue has panoramic mountain views
  • You want a wedding experience the feels like you (and you love the outdoors!)
  • You want to share your vows in an intimate setting
  • You would rather have a small but meaningful affair than throw a big party
  • You don’t want to be stressed on your wedding day

If any of these resonated with you, a mountain elopement would be a great option for your wedding experience!

Jagged mountains of the North Cascades in Washington, an epic elopement location!

How to Plan a Mountain Elopement

  1. Choose a mountain elopement location
  2. Choose an elopement date
  3. Find an elopement photographer
  4. Get your marriage license & apply for permits
  5. Plan your elopement experience
  6. Have an epic mountain elopement!

Choose a Mountain Elopement Location

With the freedom to elope anywhere, it can be a huge task to choose a location. Especially if you’ll be traveling from out of town for your elopement to a part of the country you’ve never been before.

I’ve gathered a list of the best mountain elopement locations in the country to help you find the perfect spot!

The 9 Best Mountain Elopement Locations in the U.S.

  1. North Cascades National Park
  2. Grand Teton National Park
  3. Leavenworth
  4. Olympic National Park
  5. Mt. Rainier National Park
  6. Crater Lake National Park
  7. Denali National Park
  8. Sawtooth Wilderness
  9. Inyo National Forest

Narrowing down this list to just 9 locations was no easy task, but I wanted to give a brief explanation for why I chose these locations and why a few iconic locations didn’t make the cut.

So, how did I decide which locations are the best for a mountain elopement? By taking into account accessibility, locations that aren’t overcrowded with other tourists, areas that have a reasonable photography permit process, and of course, epic mountain views.

Locations such as Yosemite and Glacier National Park are beautiful, but are incredibly crowded and can be close to impossible to find a quiet and secluded ceremony location, which is why I opted to not feature them in this guide.

North Cascades National Park

The North Cascades National Park offers an epic backdrop for couples wanting to exchange vows in some of the most stunning mountains in the United States. The North Cascades are located in northern Washington and is home to over 300 glaciers, beautiful alpine lakes, and jagged peaks, making it a perfect location for adventurous couples seeking a unique and picturesque setting for their elopement experience.

How to Get to There: If you’ll be eloping in the North Cascades from out of state, the best way to get there is to fly into the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). From there it’s a 2-3 hour drive to the North Cascades.

Where to Stay: 

Best Time of Year to Elope Here: Late Spring or early Autumn will give you the best combination of weather, access to trails at higher elevation, and fewer crowds. But avoid the Larch Madness season in late September to early October, as the golden larches are at their peak and draw thousands of visitors each year!

Permit Information: Elopements within the North Cascades National Park require a Special Use Permit, which costs $50 and should be applied for as early as possible.

Tips: Check out my full guide to planning an elopement in the North Cascades for more details!

Grand Teton National Park

Part of the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Teton National Park is located in northeast Wyoming. With panoramic views of the iconic mountains, picturesque meadows, and pristine lakes, it’s no wonder the Tetons have become a popular spot for elopements!

How to Get to There: The closest airport to Grand Teton National Park is Jackson Hole Airport (JAC) with only a short 10 minute drive to the park’s south border. If flights to Jackson Hole are too spendy for your budget, you can also look for flights into the nearby Idaho Falls Regional Airport (IDA).

Where to Stay:

Best Time of Year to Elope Here: September is the best time of year to elope in the Tetons because there will be less crowds after Labor Day while still having nice weather. June through early October are also a great time to get married there, though August it’s a possibility that the skies will be filled with smoke from wildfires in the region.

Permit Information: For wedding ceremonies taking place in Grand Teton National Park, you will need to apply for a Special Use Permit, which costs $200.

Tips: Make sure to apply for your permit early! Wedding ceremonies are only allowed in 6 locations in the park and they book out months in advance.

Leavenworth

This charming alpine town sits in the center of Washington State and is the gateway to the Enchantments. This would be the perfect elopement location if you’re looking for an epic mountain adventure for your elopement, ending the day back in town with delicious food.

How to Get to There: Leavenworth is a 2.5 hour drive from Seattle, or a 3 hour drive from Spokane, along Highway 2.

Where to Stay:

Best Time of Year to Elope Here: Leavenworth is a great spot anytime of year! Summer and early Autumn is the best if you want to access any of the dozens of gorgeous hiking trails in the area, but late November through December is the best time to visit in the winter for a magical Christmas experience.

Permit Information: Permits may be required for wedding ceremonies taking place in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. If you want to include backpacking overnight during your elopement, you will need to obtain an Enchantment Area Wilderness Permit, which is done through a lottery.

Tips: Late spring is a great time to elope in Leavenworth if you want to avoid crowds and still have good weather!

Olympic National Park

With a variety of landscapes within its borders, the Olympic National Park is a wonderful elopement location for couples that want a little bit of everything in their day. With gorgeous coastlines, moody rain forests, and epic mountain views, this National Park has endless options for creating a stunning wedding experience!

How to Get to There: This National Park can be accessed via a 3 hour drive from Seattle or a slightly longer (albeit far more pleasant) ferry ride across the sound. 

Where to Stay:

Best Time of Year to Elope Here: The weather stays fairly mild at lower elevations of the Olympic Peninsula throughout the year, making it a great location if you want to elope in the winter months to stay out of the snow. If you want to visit higher elevations, late Spring through early Autumn is a great time.

Permit Information: Weddings are required to have a Special Use Permit if it takes place within the Olympic National Park.

Tips: June and September is a great time to visit for good weather and less crowds!

Mt. Rainier National Park

An icon of Washington State, Mount Rainier is the tallest mountain in the Cascade Mountains and is a popular elopement location for couples looking for majestic mountain views! Home to old growth forests, glacier rivers, and colorful fields of wildflowers in the summer months, Mt. Rainier National Park is full of beauty.

How to Get to There: Mt. Rainier is a 2-3 hour drive from Seattle, depending on what part of the park you will be visiting.

Where to Stay: 

Best Time of Year to Elope Here: July through October are the best months to elope at Mt. Rainier! Summer and early Autumn will give you the best weather, snow-free trails, and a chance to see wildflowers around the park.

If you’re hoping to elope while Rainier’s icon wildflowers are in bloom, your best bet is going to be mid-July or early August. But each year is different and there’s no way to know for sure when they will be in bloom.

Permit Information: A permit is required for wedding ceremonies taking place within Mt. Rainier National Park. The permit has a non-refundable $250 application fee and takes at least four weeks to be processed. You can learn more on the Mt. Rainier website, here.

Tips: Because of the park’s popularity, I highly recommend choosing to elope on a weekday instead of a weekend to avoid crowds. Mt. Rainier is a popular spot for locals during the summer and can be quite busy during the Summer.

Check out my full guide to planning an elopement in Washington!

Wildflowers at the base of Mt. Rainier, a beautiful mountain elopement location in Washington.
Image Credit: National Park Service

Crater Lake National Park

Located in southern Oregon, Crater Lake is renowned for its deep blue water and for being the deepest lake in the United States. The lake is surrounded by steep cliffs and unique rock formations called “hoodoos”. This National park offers a unique landscape filled with serene beauty as an elopement location.

How to Get to There: Crater Lake is a 1.5 hour drive from Bend or a 4 hour drive from Portland and is easily accessed via car.

Where to Stay:

Best Time of Year to Elope Here: Crater Lake National Park is open year round, with the busiest season being July and August. If you want to elope without the crowds, then the best time would be in June or September after Labor Day. There may still be snow keeping parts of the park closed if you come before July, but it’s a beautiful season!

Permit Information: You will need to apply for a Special Use Permit for your elopement at Crater Lake, which costs $50.

Tips: It’s not uncommon for wildfire smoke to hit the park in August or September. If this is a concern for you, I would recommend choosing an elopement date in late Spring or early Summer.

Denali National Park

Denali National Park and Preserve is located in central Alaska. It is home to epic mountains and North America’s highest peak, Denali. It is an epic elopement location, with glaciers, lakes, and awe inspiring mountain peaks surrounded by rugged wilderness for miles and miles.

How to Get to There: The easiest route to Denali is to fly into the Fairbanks International Airport and drive 2 hours to the park. The other option is to fly into the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and make the 4 hour drive from there.

Where to Stay:

Best Time of Year to Elope Here: Summer is the best time to visit Denali, specifically mid-May through mid-September. This time of year will offer full park facilities, warm weather, as well as 20 hours of daylight each day!

Permit Information: A Special Use Permit is required for weddings within Denali National Park. It costs $200 and must be submitted no less than 10 days before the requested date, but the earlier the better!

Tips: July and August are the rainiest months in Denali, so if you want to avoid rain, stick to the shoulder seasons for your elopement.

Denali mountain in Alaska, an epic backdrop for eloping couples.
Image Credit: National Park Service

Sawtooth Wilderness

Sitting in central Idaho, the Sawtooth Wilderness is home to jagged mountain peaks and hundreds of beautiful alpine lakes. For adventurous couples, the Sawtooth Wilderness presents endless opportunities for creating a unique wedding experience surrounded by natural beauty.

How to Get to There: The Sawtooth’s are easily accessed by car. They are a 2-3 hour drive from the Boise Airport, depending on what part of the mountains you are going to for your elopement.

Where to Stay:

Best Time of Year to Elope Here: June through early October will be the best time of year to plan your elopement in the Sawtooth’s.

Permit Information: A permit may be required if your wedding ceremony takes place in the Sawtooth National Forest.

Tips: Book your accommodations early if you plan on eloping in the Summer! Hotels and lodges book up quickly in this area, so it’s best to book as soon as possible. I also recommend choosing a weekday and either a sunrise or sunset ceremony for your elopement to avoid crowds in the summertime.

Check out my full guide to planning an elopement in Idaho!

A Colorful sunset sky above the jagged mountains of the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho.
Image Credit: Sawtooth National Forest

Inyo National Forest

Spanning across eastern California and western Nevada, the Inyo National Forest is home to vast and varied landscapes that provide countless options for intimate and memorable ceremonies. The area’s remote forests and rugged mountains provide an adventurous and beautiful elopement backdrop.

How to Get to There: Mammoth Lakes Airport is the closest airport with a 1.5 hour drive to Inyo National Forest. Otherwise you can fly into the Fresno Yosemite International Airport, which is a 5 hour drive away.

Where to Stay:

Best Time of Year to Elope Here: Autumn is the best time to elope in the Inyo National Forest! With warm weather and less crowds than in the summer, September through early November are a great time to elope in this area.

Permit Information: A permit may be required for your wedding in the Inyo National Forest and requirements may vary depending on your location and event details.

Tips: Opt for a sunrise or sunset ceremony for the best lighting and to avoid any potential crowds.

Choose an Elopement Date

With your location in mind, start thinking up dates. Remember, you’re not limited to weekends with an elopement! You can literally get married any day that you want! Think of a date that is ideal for the location you want to get married in and a date you want to celebrate your anniversary year after year.

Find Your Elopement Photographer

Now that you have a better idea of where you want to elope, you’ll want to find your elopement photographer. Many elopement photographers (such as myself!) will also help with planning, which is why it’s great to find yours as early as possible so they can help you with permits, planning, and figuring out your day.

If you’re looking for an elopement photographer that specializes in mountain elopements, I’m your gal! I can help you not only photograph your day, but research ceremony locations, help you obtain your permits, provide you with a timeline for your experience, and more! 

Get Your Marriage License

Once you know where you’ll be getting married, you’ll need to come up with a plan for getting your marriage license. Some states require you to apply for it in person, while others allow you to apply through the mail.

If you plan on eloping in a state that requires you to apply in person, make sure to find out if there is a waiting period or if you can use it the same day you receive your marriage license. I also recommend you plan to obtain your marriage license at least one day before your actual wedding ceremony, that way you don’t have to stress by adding an extra thing to your day.

Couple holding hands and sharing a moment on their elopement day.

Apply for Permits

You’ll want to apply for any necessary permits as early as possible to have the best chances of getting them approved. Most locations that require a permit will allow you to apply between 2 weeks to 12 months of your elopement date.

If you’re not sure if you need a permit for your location, ask your photographer! They should be able to walk you through the permit process.

Plan Your Elopement Experience

Now’s for the really fun part, you get to plan your elopement day with all of your favorite things! Beyond your ceremony and portraits, you can include so many amazing activities and details to make your day extra special. Here are a few ideas to inspire you:

Mountain Elopement Ideas

  • Sunrise ceremony
  • Hike to a scenic view
  • Explore a National Park
  • Go on a bike ride
  • Camp or backpack
  • Roast s’mores over a campfire
  • Have a mountain picnic
  • Stargazing
  • Relax in a hammock

Check out this list of 50+ elopement day activities for more inspiration!

Groom helping his bride on a hike during their elopement.

Mountain Elopement Wedding Attire

Depending on what activities you want to include in your day, you may need to take your wedding attire into consideration.

Choose a Suitable Dress

Take your surroundings and activities into consideration when shopping for your wedding dress. Plan on doing a lot of hiking? I would recommend a slimmer cut with less layers. Want to hike to an epic location and change there? Opt for a dress with lace instead of beading to cut back on weight.

Check out my guide to planning a hiking elopement for more information on choosing the right wedding attire!

Get the Right Shoes

Having a good pair of shoes will make a huge difference in your day! If you plan on doing a lot of walking or hiking, choose a pair of shoes suitable to the activities you want to include. Don’t forget to break them in before your elopement day for optimal comfort.

Book Your Elopement Vendors

While elopements don’t always include a lot of vendors other than a photographer, there are a handful of common vendors you may want to add to your day. The most common elopement vendors include:

  • Hair & Makeup
  • Videographer
  • Catering or private chef
  • Elopement planning
  • Officiant

Create an Elopement Day Timeline

After you know the events and activities you want to include in your mountain elopement, you’ll need to organize them into a timeline. Creating a timeline will ensure your day is stress-free and runs smoothly. If you’re not sure where to begin with creating your timeline, you can ask your photographer if this is something they include in their services.

Check out my guide to elopement timelines!

Book Accommodations & Travel

You’ll want to book your lodging and travel accommodations as early as you can for the best availability for your elopement.

Leave No Trace for Your Mountain Elopement

It’s important to follow Leave No Trace during your elopement experience to protect the natural landscapes you’ll be getting married in. You can do so by preparing ahead of time, following the regulations and requirements for weddings in your elopement location, and by always making sure to clean up after yourselves.

If you want to learn more about Leave No Trace and how to implement it in your mountain elopement, check out my guide here!

A herd of elk grazing behind a campsite.

What to Pack for Your Mountain Elopement

  • Your wedding attire
  • Hiking clothes (if changing into wedding attire after hike)
  • Wedding accessories, such as jewelry, veil, cufflinks, tie, etc.
  • Rings & ring box
  • Hiking gear, including appropriate shoes, navigation, water, snacks, etc.
  • Appropriate clothing (rain gear, hat, gloves, etc.)
  • Marriage license + pen
  • A printed copy of your permit (if needed for your elopement location)
  • Traction, such as microspikes, if there may be snow

View my complete adventure elopement packing list guide for more information!

Have an Epic Elopement in the Mountains!

All of your planning comes to fruition and you get to have the best wedding ever, with a stunning mountain backdrop! Enjoy your day and celebrate your wedding!

I hope you found this guide helpful for planning your mountain elopement! If you’re in need of an elopement photographer and planner who also loves adventure, I would love to work with you! Take a look at my elopement packages or contact me to learn more about how I can help you plan an epic elopement in the mountains.

Happy eloping!

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