This mountain elopement guide is going to cover everything you need to know about how to elope in the mountains, 30 mountain elopement locations, as well as everything else you need to know and consider to have your own!

What is a Mountain Elopement

A mountain elopement is more or less a couple deciding to celebrate their wedding day in the mountains. Wether this is with a few guests, or a “just us” elopement. The day likely takes place in, or near a mountain or mountain range. This could include saying vows on a summit, or having an intimate reception in a mountain chalet.

As with all elopements, these days are super-personalized and uniquely tailored to each couple and how they choose to celebrate stepping into their next chapter as a couple. But rest assured, my mountain elopement guide is going to cover how to elope in the mountains, the benefits, mountain elopement locations, and even activity ideas.

Why Elope in the Mountains?

There are so many reasons to have a mountain elopement, but here’s a few that couples have talked about:

  • Saying their vows somewhere unforgettable
  • Hiking through wildflowers, glaciers, and waterfalls
  • Seeing wildlife
  • Lodging in cozy cabins or luxury chalets
  • Being able to find stunning locations that make everything feel surreal
  • Absolutely gorgeous photos
  • Loving summer months but still wanting cooler temps

Best Time of the Year for a Mountain Elopement

The best time of the year for a mountain elopement is generally going to be summer, as this is when all the snow is melted, and wildflowers are even blooming. Mountains are in pretty high elevation, so they are snow packed later in the year, and stay cooler even through peak summer.

Although, fall is also an incredible time. Having your mountain elopement in the fall prior to new snowfall gives you the opportunity to deal with less people, and also be surrounded by those vibrant fall colors. Just make sure not to have your elopement too late, as weather can change overnight in late fall. A perfectly clear trail can be covered in snow the next day in months such as November. I’ll cover more on staying safe in this situation throughout the mountain elopement guide.

Mountain Elopement Locations

Mt. Rainier National Park

Mt. Rainier is a National Park located in Washington State. It’s a pretty popular park, but there are endless locations that have less foot traffic and the most gorgeous wildflowers you’ve ever seen. I would say Mt. Rainier has a “magical” vibe that is what draws so many people to this amazing park. Want less crowds? The National Forests outside of the park still offer stunning views of Mt. Rainier with less people.

North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park is located in northern part of Washington State. This park boasts glaciers, alpine lakes, and jagged peaks. This is a true wilderness area and would be a good choice for couples who are experiences hikers and want to be away from crowds. There are grizzly bears and other wildlife in the area, carry bear spray.

Mt. Adams

Mt. Adams is the second highest mountain in Washington State. It’s an active volcano. Mt. Adams is a good choice for couples seeking solitude that are experienced adventure’s. This mountain is also incredibly close to Hood River in Oregon. An adorable orchard town with wind surfing on the lake.

Mt. Baker

Mt. Baker wilderness is apart of the Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Northern Washington. About an hour and 20 minutes outside of Bellingham, one of my favorite mountain towns in the US. Mt. Baker is famous for “Artist’s Point,” but also had tons of other stunning mountain elopement locations.

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula in Washington. Here, you can visit the peaks at Hurricane Ridge, or the old growth forests. It’s even close to the rugged Washington coastline if you want a vast array of landscape to visit for your mountain elopement.

Mt. St. Helens

Mt. St. Helens is a mountain that erupted, and has a “blown off top.” These are some of my favorite hiking trails in the mountain elopement guide. In ways, Mt. St. Helens reminds me of Mt. Rainier, but with less crowds. The wildflowers and rivers make this place feel like a wonderland.

The Enchantments

Located near Leavenworth, Washington, the enchantments are home to over 700 alpine lakes and ponds. This is my absolute FAVORITE location on the mountain elopement guide. Not only because of the endless amount of gorgeous mountain elopement locations in this small area, but I also love the town. Leavenworth is a Bavarian style town that gives the feel of a European village, with amazing lodging and great food.

Mt. Hood National Forest

Mt. Hood is located in Oregon. A stunning National Forest with plenty of places for privacy and exploration. There are many lakes, and a ton of different trails leading you to different mountain views. It’s also pretty easy to hike right on the mountain from Timberline Lodge. Mt. Hood is one hour outside of Portland, one hour from Hood River, and two hours from Bend. This all makes it a perfect place to incorporate anything you want into your elopement plans.

Mt. Jefferson

Mt. Jefferson is another stunning wilderness area in Oregon. Mossy trees, alpine lakes, and of course, amazing mountain views. There is lower foot traffic here, although that might be due to the permit system they have in place.

Three Sisters Wilderness

Three sisters wilderness is near and dear to my heart as it’s located where I live in Central Oregon. Choose to explore South, Middle, or North sister for a variety of different options. Want a no-hike locations? The Cascades Lakes Scenic Byway consists of over 17 alpine lakes with most of them being drive up locations. You have views of the mountains at many of these lakes!

Crater Lake

Surrounded by the Umpqua National Forest in Oregon, Crater Lake is a lake formed by a now collapsed volcano. There’s a cone shaped rim that goes around the entire lake. Not only do you get mountain views, but you also can explore the hikes in this area or go into Upmqua and enjoy some natural hot springs.

Mt. Shasta

Located in California, Mt. Shasta is a snow capped peak surrounded by lakes, hiking trails, waterfalls and the small charming town resting below it. There is a ton of lower traffic hikes with beautiful views to escape busier locations, as well as “no hike” locations around the lake.

Alabama Hills

One of my favorite California mountain elopement locations. This park is made up of hills, rocks, and natural arches with constant views of the Sierra Nevada’s. There’s currently no permit system in place for this location, and it’s easy to find space to have a very private ceremony. Many people camp here, and I’ve used dispersed campsites to help couples set up luxury picnics, intimate receptions, or situations like cocktails and cake around a bonfire.

alabama hills mountain elopement location

The Sierra Nevadas

The Sierra Nevadas stretch through a large part of both California and Nevada. One of my all time favorite mountain ranges. There’s many places to immerse yourself in this location such as Lake Tahoe, Bishop, Mammoth Lakes, and the Jon Muir National Forest.

mountain elopement locations

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park is a geographically interesting area with tons of bubbling geothermal pools, lakes, and denser forested areas. The famous Pacific Crest Trail also runs through this mountain elopement location.

mountain elopement guide

Grand Teton National Park

Located in Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park is a hub for mountain elopements. Not only do you have the famous and easy to access mountain views, you also have hikes that will easily get you away from crowds. Stunning locations such as Delta Lake have less foot traffic since it’s a bit more of a “challenge.” You can even avoid the park tourism by opting to find your equally as stunning mountain elopement location in the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

mountain elopement guide
The sun sets behind the Grand Teton above Delta Lake in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

Glacier National Park

One of my favorite elopement locations in the mountain elopement guide, Glacier National Park has extremely unique and fairly easily accessible mountain views. There are drive up locations at lakes, as well as jaw-dropping hikes that are as short as two miles. There are mountain goats, grizzly bears, and other wildlife. Be sure to carry bear spray.

mountain elopement locations
Goats standing on an overlook at Glacier National Park

Great Bear Wilderness

Looking for a bit of solitude and to get off the beaten path? The Great Bear Wilderness located in Montana will give you exactly that. The hikes and locations include mountains, lakes, and wildflowers. There is wildlife here, follow LNT practices and carry bear spray.

mountain elopement guide

Sawtooth National Forest

The Sawtooth National Forest is one of the most overlooked mountain elopement location. Located in Idaho, explore absolutely stunning hot springs, hikes, and insane mountain views. The alpine lakes are breathtaking. Even driving in this location you’re surrounded by beautiful, dense forest and flowing rivers.

mountain elopement guide
Recreation in the Idaho mountains with a tent and read boats on a lake

High Uinta

Who would have thought the desert of Utah would have some of the most gorgeous mountain elopement locations? The High Uinta’s is made up of insanely unique mountain terrain. With alpine lakes and wildflowers, you wouldn’t believe this was Utah. This would be a perfect location for a couples wanting both desert landscape and mountain landscape as apart of their elopement. An incredible way to spend a multi-day elopement!

Rocky Mountain National Park

One of the best well known National Parks in the country, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is famous for mountain views and incredible hikes. Of course, being as popular as it is, it can be quite crowded. If you want to elope here and avoid crowds, consider opting for a sunrise elopement or looking for less trafficked hikes on Alltrails.

mountain elopement locations

The Maroon Bells

Another stunning mountain elopement location in Colorado. The Maroon bells are two peaks, and you’re also getting the beautiful alpine lake views. I believe this location works on a permitted system, meaning there’s only allowed to be a certain amount of people at this location at a time. That being said, make sure to fo your permit research in advance and apply early on.

The San Juan Mountains

The San Juan Mountains is a rugged and stunning mountain range in the Rocky Mountains in southwestern Colorado and northwestern New Mexico. This area of the Rocky Mountains gets far less crowds than the actual Rocky Mountain National Park, with all the same perks of the jaw-dropping views

mountain elopement guide

The Flat Irons

Located in Colorado, the Flat Irons are a unique set of mountains. They’re moderate to hike, and can be busy. These mountains are right outside of Boulder, making it a great stop if you want to enjoy parts of being in town and visiting mountains close by.

Pisgah National Forest

Located in North Carolina, the Pisgah National Forest is apart of the Appalachian range. There’s a multitude of stunning hikes that are far less crowded than mountain locations on the west coast and Colorado. It also boasts views of rolling hills and waterfalls. The changing colors of fall are one of my most favorite views in this world.

mountain elopement locations

The Smokey Mountains

The Smokey Mountains are located in Tennessee, about three hours from Nashville and one hour outside of Knoxville. This may be a southern mountain range, but there are still black bears. Make sure to still carry bear spray! The Great Smokey Mountains actually also connect to the Blue Mountains, making it a great option for a road trip elopement. Lot’s of “no hike” pull off locations.

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park is located in Virginia. This is a densely forested location offering views of waterfalls, and rugged peaks. If you’re looking for an east coast mountain elopement location, don’t overlook this beautiful park! With many hiking trails and drive up locations, it can offer something for everyone.

mountain elopement locations

The White Mountains

The White Mountains are the most rugged peaks in New England. That being said, it’s one of the best mountain elopement locations on the east coast. It goes through a large part of New Hampshire, and a smaller section of Maine. With stunning lakes and snow dusted peaks, this location is absolutely gorgeous and is my favorite with the fall colors.

mountain elopement guide

The Green Mountains

The Green Mountains are exactly how they sound; covered in greenery. A beautiful take on mountain elopement locations. The extreme greenery really makes this a unique location. This is a mountain range in Vermont, near charming towns. You can still find lakes and snow dusted peaks here as well!

The Adirondacks

In upstate New York lies the Adirondacks. When you think of a mountain elopement location, you might be thinking of tall rugged peaks. Whereas you wont find as much of that here, this location shouldn’t be overlooked, which is exactly why it’s listed in the mountain elopement guide. There are still many peaks and valleys in this incredible location, with tons of amazing hiking trails that offer solitude away from crowds.

mountain elopement locations

How to Plan a Mountain Elopement

You plan a mountain elopement in similar ways as you’d plan any adventure elopement. There are a few major steps, and you can read about those here on my thorough guide on how to elope. For this mountain elopement guide, I’m going over the major things you’ll need to consider!

Decide if You’re Having Guests

This is an imperative part of the planning process for mountain elopements. This is because some guests won’t have good hiking ability, some might not want to drive or forest roads, and others will be apt to altitude sickness. Also, a lot of National Parks have a cap on how many guests you can have. Choosing a location will be much easier once you’ve determine who you’re inviting, and how many guests total you’ll have.

Determine Your Hiking Level

If you’ve only ever hiked on the east coast, I wouldn’t recommend summiting a mountain in Oregon for your elopement. Many hikes here begin 3000 feet ABOVE sea level. That being said, think about your current hiking level and how much you want to actually push yourself, if at all.

Remember as well, that you might choose to be in your wedding attire. Consider how much hiking you’d want to do in your dresses/suits

Hire Your Mountain Elopement Photographer

This might feel early in the planning process, but bear with me. Elopements don’t have wedding planners. Most elopement photographers have taken it upon themselves to help couples with some of the planning. Many actually help you find your location! And they will think of things you might not have considered, such as: lighting, elevation, difficulty in hiking in a dress, permits, and so much more.

Each elopement photographer offers something different. Personally, I send my couples a customized list of locations based on their preferences, hiking ability, who they want to invite, and what they want to see. I also help them determine lodging options, get permits, get their marriage license, recommend vendors, and create a comprehensive day of timeline, and offer unlimited guidance calls for any questions along the way.

The being said, hiring your mountain elopement photographer early is going to take a massive amount of planning stress off of your shoulders. Wanna chat? Contact me here!

Determine What Weather You Want to be In

This is going to help you choose a date and location. There are rainy seasons, dry seasons, and even seasons that you THINK would be warm, but can still be snowy and cold in the mountains. So, when you’re doing that research, you’ll already want to have in mind what kind of weather you want. For example, if you hate rain, it might be best to stay away from mountains in Washington that receive more than their fair share of gloomy days.

Alternatively, you could look into Central Oregon that has similar mountain landscapes, but rarely receives rain. Once again, this is all research I do for my couples.

Figure Out What Landscapes Appeal to You the Most

Theres a variety of different landscapes you can get alongside mountain views. Maybe you want to be right in the thick of it, on top of a mountain, surrounded by other mountains, like in North Cascades. Or, maybe you want mountain views but to be at a like, like in Three Sisters Wilderness or The Enchainments.

Looking for dense forest? Consider The Green Mountains. Want desert and mountains? Consider the Sierra Nevadas or Alabama Hills.

Pick Your Mountain Elopement Location!

Once you’ve decided on how much you’d like to hike, how many guests are coming, your ideal weather, and the landscapes you want, you’re ready to deep dive into researching mountain elopement locations. Finding the perfect spot will be a lot simpler after considering all of your needs and logistics.

As always, this is information I collect from my couple through a questionnaire, and then use to make a customized list of mountain elopement location options for them.

Hire Vendors

Once you have your location, it’s time to consider if there’s anything you need vendors for. Do you want a friend or family member to officiate, or will you need an officiant? Do you want a bouquet from a florist or are you down to make your own from Trader Joe’s flowers? Will you go out to eat, or do you want something catered, like a meal at an Airbnb from a private chef?

Figure out what you want, and hire your vendors in advance

Get Your Permits

Some permits can be tricky to get, and some expire quickly. So, the permit process is difficult at times. But if you research ahead of time, or even call the forest service local to your mountain elopement location, you’ll be able to pre-determine what you need, and when to get it.

Personally, I get all permit information for my eloping couples that hire me. With that, all you need to do is fill out the application when it’s sent to you and pay the fee. Fee’s vary, but are usually around $100 or less.

Choose Additional Elopement Activities

Activities are such a fun part of an elopement. When you choose to elope, you’re opening yourself up to having a wedding day celebration that feels unique and resonates with you. Incorporate things that will elevate your elopement day experience. Here’s just a few ideas to get you brainstorming:

  • Going on a hike
  • Having a bonfire
  • Having a picnic on a mountain top
  • Star-gazing or astrophotography
  • Swimming
  • Cliff jumping
  • Visiting waterfalls
  • Camping
  • Glamping
  • Hiring a private chef
  • Hot air balloon ride
  • Helicopter tour (landing on glaciers, mountains, etc)
  • Kayaking
  • Paddleboarding
  • Sightseeing
  • Scenic driving with time to stop for pictures
  • Visiting hot springs
  • Exchanging gifts
  • Reading letters from friends or family
mountain elopement guide

Make a Day-Of Timeline

Making a timeline is an important part of any elopement. It strings together all of your locations, activities, and lets guests know where to be and when. Creating a well thought out timeline will help you feel relxaed during the day, instead of stressed or rush. Make sure to include drive times as well as buffer times between each “event.”

The things I include in my couples timelines are:

  • All addresses
  • Sunrise time
  • Sunset time
  • Drive times
  • A linke to Accuweather
  • A list of all names for group shots
  • Vendor info
  • Emergency contact info
  • A packing list

Offload All Driving and Hiking Maps

I recommend this for any adventure elopement, but this is crucial for mountain elopements. Don’t skip this part of the mountain elopement guide, as it could save you a ton of trouble. Forest roads and hikes can get complicated and confusing. The last thing you want on your wedding day is to make a wrong turn and be utterly lost with no service.

You can offline and entire section of a state using Google Maps, ensuring that you can get around even when you have no service. You can also offline any hikes on AllTrails. Especially when hiking in high elevation with wild-life and the potential of fast changing weather, you need to be safe and know how to get back quickly.

Mountain Elopement Lodging

Lodging can be a huge factor for elopements! Not only is this the space you’ll stay and get ready, but couples often use their accommodations as a place to host an intimate reception with guests. Not only that, but some Airbnb’s sit on stunning private property. Couples will pick an Airbnb with gorgeous mountain views and sometimes have their ceremony right on the property. Make sure to check with any vacation rental host to make sure they’re okay with your plans.

I help my couples find lodging for their unique needs, but here are some things to consider when choosing your own. If you want well lit get ready photos, make sure there are east facing windows to create natural light in your space. Make sure the driving distance isn’t too far from your exact elopement location. For example. An Airbnb outside of Mt. Rainier can still be two hours away if you pick lodging near the wrong park entrance.

Also consider the amount of people it could hold if you’re planning on hosting any guests afterwards.

Do I need a Permit for a Mountain Elopement?

Short answer: usually. But it depends. National Parks almost always require a special use permit, and you also have to follow a set of rules and regulations. For example, in Mt. Rainier you can elope on a trail if you have 12 guests. But if you have 30, you can only used picnic areas.

National forests and BLM land sometimes don’t require a permit at all. Some do, and some also have the same restrictions as National Parks. Make sure to always research permit information before finalizing your location or plans.

mountain elopement

How do I Get a Marriage License for a Mountain Elopement?

Once you know your mountain elopement location, find out what county it’s located in. Then, you will want to apply online for a marriage license in the county that you’re getting married. You will have to pick it up in person from the county clerks office prior to your elopement.

Marriage licenses usually have a three day waiting period. That means once you pick it up in person, you can’t use it for three more days. Although, there’s typically a fee to waive the waiting period. Make sure to call about this in advance. Otherwise, plan your elopement around that three day waiting period.

What to Wear for a Mountain Elopement

Lot’s of couples opt for lighter weight wedding attire. This is because a lot of couples actually choose to hike in their wedding gear! A shorter dress, or on the bustles nicely, is a good choice for hiking. Most couples usually accompany their wedding attire with nice hiking boots as well (make sure to break them in.)

For colder weather, don’t forget to bring layers. Fleece nude colored leggings go under dresses perfectly and help keep you warm on chilly days. Don’t forget jackets, hand warmers, and other layers to help you be prepared for the day.

Lastly, another options is hiking with backpacks in regular clothing, and changing into your wedding gear at your ceremony location. These things also don’t really apply to “no hike” drive up locations.

All the Gear You Need

Now that we’ve talked about your attire, here are some other things to consider for your mountain elopement. If you’re hiking, make sure to bring the correct gear. We already touched on layers, but consider also bringing an extra pair of socks, a head lamp, bug spray, sunscreen, a small first aid kit, umbrellas, hand warmers, water, snacks, hiking boots, and biffy bags. These are just some general things listed on the mountain elopement guide. I create thorough packing lists for each of my couples based on their location.

mountain elopement

Mountain Elopement Safety

There is wildlife in many of the mountains listed in the mountain elopement guide. Safety is paramount, and nature doesn’t care about wedding days. Firstly, have a plan “b” location. If a road or trail becomes inaccessible due to snow, I wouldn’t recommend trying to brave it. A lower elevation plan b elopement location is always a good choice.

Always carry bear spray. Most wildlife will normally leave you alone, but bears and moose are dangerous. Also be incredibly careful of what food you’re carrying, and remember to make some noise as you hike. Bear and moose attacks during elopements are incredibly rare, but it’s good to be safe!

As previously mentioned, remember to offload all of your maps so there’s no risk of getting lost!

The Mountain Elopement Guide

Now that you’ve read through the mountain elopement guide, you’re ready to start planning your own mountain elopement! If all of this information feels like a lot to digest and overwhelming, don’t worry, I’ve got you. Eloping should be fun and easy, that’s why I’ve created packages that not only do the planning work for you, but also artfully document and tell your story.

mountain elopement guide

Mountain Elopement Packages

Mountain elopement photography by Emilee Setting Photo, and everything included in my packages:

  • All travel fees included in the price!
  • Packages from half day elopements to multi-day elopements
  • Receive a customized location list
  • Help finding lodging that suits your needs if you’re having an intimate reception
  • Included comprehensive timeline design
  • Help obtaining your permits
  • Help obtaining your marriage license
  • A planning checklist
  • Unlimited planning and guidance calls 
  • All of your stunning photos delivered under three months
  • Day of polaroid sneak peeks

Elopement packages starting at $5800. Want more information on my pricing and what’s included? Click here

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You see a stranger’s puppy & it takes everything in you not to run up & cuddle it.

Your dress gets dirt on it, and you shrug.

You think ice cream & wine is always an acceptable dinner option. Always.

You LIVE for the feeling of sunshine on your skin & wind in your hair.

You’re already screaming YASSSS WHERE DO I BOOK YOU?

I'm Emilee

I'm an elopement photographer who specializes in planning, crafting, and documenting untraditional weddings. I believe a wedding day should be filled with traditions that resonate with you. I'm here from start to finish to make that happen. Want to chat about your plans? Click below to set up a free consultation! 

You see a stranger’s puppy & it takes everything in you not to run up & cuddle it.

Your dress gets dirt on it, and you shrug.

You think ice cream & wine is always an acceptable dinner option. Always.

You LIVE for the feeling of sunshine on your skin & wind in your hair.

You’re already screaming YASSSS WHERE DO I BOOK YOU?

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