Mt. Baker Elopement Guide for 2023

Welcome to our Mt. Baker Elopement Guide!
We’re here to share lots of useful information for planning your elopement in the Mt. Baker area.

Where is Mt Baker?

Mt. Baker is located in the Cascade mountain range of Washington situated near the Canadian border. It’s just an hour and a half from the college town of Bellingham (which we recommend checking out too). Mt. Baker also borders the North Cascades National Park, but they’re technically two different areas. You might see posts or photos tagged as North Cascades though because Mt. Baker is part of the North Cascades mountain range. Just not technically part of the National Park itself! There is only one highway you can drive to get to Mt. Baker (Highway 542), and the highway ends at Artist Point. So you’ll have to go back to Bellingham before continuing on to North Cascades National Park or somewhere else in Washington!

Why Elope in Mt Baker?

The North Cascade mountains are known as the “American Alps” and for good reason! Mt. Baker has some of the most gorgeous mountain views in the United States. It really does feel like you’re in a completely different world. For your Mt. Baker elopement, you can choose to go on a short hike, a longer more challenging hike, or even go backpacking! Mt. Baker National-Forest is an outdoor paradise and perfect for couples looking to have a true mountain adventure on their elopement day.

Mt. Shuksan (on the left) and Mt. Baker (on the right)

Mt. Baker or Mt. Shuksan?

When couples plan their Mt. Baker elopement, they might not realize a lot of photos they’ve seen are actually of Mt. Shuksan. Mt. Baker is the farthest north strato-volcano in the continental US and the namesake of the National Forest. And while we love taking photos with Mt. Baker, a lot of couples are completely enamored with Mt. Shuksan too! There are mountains literally in every direction. So we don’t blame anyone for being confused in such a beautiful place. For sunrise or sunset on a clear day, you can watch alpenglow on both Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan for your elopement. A lot of trails have stunning views of both stunning views. So when you elope in Mt. Baker, you’ll get to enjoy both!

Best Locations for Your Mt. Baker Elopement

Artist Point

Artist Point is the most popular destination for visiting Mt. Baker. It has 360-degree mountain views with tons of hiking trails from the parking lot. Just driving up to Artist Point is one of the most beautiful mountain drives in the country. You’ll be blown away before you even hit the trail!

Fall Mt Baker Elopement

Snowy Artist Point Elopement

Dog-Friendly Artist Point Elopement

Road to Artist Point

The road to Artist Point is only open for a short window each year, usually from early August to early October. The rest of the year the road is closed and covered in deep snow. The earliest we’ve seen the road open is late July and even then the trails were still covered in snow. This is also one of the most popular snowshoeing trails in the winter, so you can access it via snowshoes outside of the summer season. But we always like to preface that even in June, Artist Point will be a winter wonderland.

You can check road conditions/closures here.

Sunrise in Mt. Baker with views of Mt. Shuksan
Sunset on trail in Mt. Baker with bride and groom
Snowy mountain trails for elopement in Mt. Baker

Bagley Lakes/Heather Meadows

You’ll pass Bagley Lakes on your drive up to Artist Point. So it’s a very easy place to stop and enjoy the mountain views from there. There’s usually fireweed surrounding the trail down to Bagley Lake. So we love coming here in August-September to see the fireweed blooming too! If the mountain views are hidden on a moody day, we also love coming down here as a backup location!

Rainy Bagley Lakes Elopement

Family Ceremonies in Mt. Baker

This is also one of the only easy-access spots if you are bringing family. The trail is flat and paved from the visitor center with a nice viewpoint overlooking the lake. You cannot bring a group of more than 12 total people to Artist Point, which is also why this is popular for family ceremonies. That being said, there is no guarantee or reservations possible for this viewpoint (or any location) for a family ceremony. With its growing popularity, you might be waiting for another couple (or two) and their family to finish using the spot. So as long as you don’t mind waiting and sharing with other couples, Bagley Lakes has amazing views and can keep your family comfortable! ๐Ÿ™‚

Artist Point Sunrise Elopement + Family

Artist Point Sunset Elopement + Family

Moody weather at alpine lake in Mt. Baker National-Forest

Chain Lakes Loop

This is one of the more popular moderate hikes in Mt. Baker. It takes you on a gorgeous loop around some of the best views in the area. On a clear day, you’ll see Mt. Baker, Mt. Shuksan and Table Mountain from multiple vantage points. It’s important to work with someone who understands this hike because it can be needlessly more difficult if you’re not familiar with the trail. We’ve hiked this loop many times and have our own “system” for making this an easier-going hike for our couples.

This is also a great place for backpacking or fly-fishing one of the lakes along the loop. So you can definitely do more than just day-hike this trail! Otherwise, this is a great day hike for those looking to spend more time on the trail and want more of a moderately challenging hike.

Moody Artist Point, Chain Lakes, Winchester 2 day Elopement

Couple exchanging vows in Mt. Baker

Winchester Mountain Lookout

This spot has become very popular in recent years. It’s a moderate hike to a stunning viewpoint and you get to explore a fire lookout at the same time! That being said, this spot does require some technical off-roading skills to access the trailhead (4WD and high clearance vehicles only). If you already have a Jeep or do light off-roading already, this won’t be any trouble for you. It’s also worth mentioning this vista is a very small area shared with other day-hikers, backpackers, and potentially a few other couples. So it will not feel very intimate unless you’re lucky enough to get the spot alone. Not to worry though, we have lots of other amazing locations that have more intimacy that are easier to access! It’s important to work with experienced elopement photographers who can help you navigate the fluctuation in trail popularity to help you have a more intimate experience (especially for vows or quiet moments together).

Winchester Sunrise Elopement

Winchester Jeep Sunrise Elopement

Winchester Sunrise Elopement w/ dog

Yellow Astre Butte

This is one of our favorite personal hikes in the Mt. Baker area because it gets less traffic than other hikes. Mostly because this is a really challenging hike! It’s a 9-mile out-and-back trail with almost 3,000 feet of elevation gain. You climb countless switchbacks through the forest before coming out of the trees to enjoy mountain views (on a clear day). While challenging, if you have clear weather and want a more challenging hike, this would be a perfect choice!

Sunset Yellow Aster Butte Elopement

River and Forest Locations in Mt. Baker

Like most of Washington, Mt. Baker also offers some diversity in scenery! Pretty much all cabins/Airbnbs will be at a lower elevation in a lush rainforest with gorgeous glacier-fed rivers. While most of the actual hiking trails are at a much higher elevation in the alpine mountain environment. We have a few favorite spots we can visit in the lush forests if you want more diversity for photos. We love doing picnics, first looks, or even ceremonies amongst the greenery!

Hygge Hus Forest Snowshoe Elopement

Bride and groom exploring lush forest in Mt. Baker

Mt. Baker Elopement FAQs

  • Do you need a permit to elope in Mt. Baker? Yes, you will need a permit for your elopement. The permit is currently free but you do need approval for your group size and location. We chat with the permit coordinator frequently for Mt. Baker. As far as we’re aware, couples have needed a permit since at least 2020!
  • Dog friendly for elopements? Yes! And we have a blog post all about bringing your dog to your elopement.
  • Is Highway 542 always open? The road to Artist Point is usually open from early August through early October. You can read more under our “Artist Point” section above.
  • Cell service? Most locations in Mt. Baker will not have good cell service. Especially down at your cabin (even though you’ll have Wifi there). There are spots along most trails where we’ve had some service, but it will not reliably be available. You’ll most likely rely on Wifi at your Airbnb while exploring Mt. Baker. We recommend downloading offline maps for navigation! ๐Ÿ™‚
Couple eloping with their dog in Mt. Baker National-Forest

Washington Marriage License (Do we need an officiant?)

You will need an ordained officiant and two witnesses to legally get married in the state of Washington. Ryan is an ordained officiant and will happily sign your marriage license. However, if you’re looking for someone to be more involved and guide you through a ceremony, we have officiant recommendations down below! So there’s no need to worry about making it official and getting a marriage license with us!

Washington Marriage License Info:

  • Requires an ordained officiant.
  • Requires two witnesses.
  • Marriage license is valid for 60 days.
  • There is a 3-day waiting period before the marriage license is valid.
  • The application fee is $69.
  • You can get a marriage license from any county and it will be valid anywhere in Washington. So you don’t have to pick up your marriage license from the same county where you elope.

How to Apply for Your Marriage License

You can apply for your marriage license online at the King County Recorder’s Office. We recommend King County in Seattle since most couples will be visiting Seattle at some point. As we mentioned above, you can get a license from King County and use it anywhere in Washington. It’s not county-specific. The website is intuitive and will answer just about any question you might have. They even have a calculator tool to figure out when you need to apply.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to fill out the back side of the marriage license (social security section). It’s easy to forget! Also, Mt. Baker is located in Whatcom County (you’ll need to know the county name).

Best Time of Year to elope in Mt. Baker

The best time of year in our opinion to elope in Mt. Baker is the month of August. July will still have snow and the road to access hiking trails will probably be closed. And while September is great weather-wise, there’s a much greater chance of moody weather and not being able to see the mountains. They have closed the road for maintenance and preparing for winter sometime in the first week of October the past few years. So generally, we’d say October 4th-ish is probably the last date to plan an elopement up there before the winter season. By all means, you can also elope in the off-season and plan an amazing snowshoeing elopement too!

Dates to avoid: Holidays + weekends, Mt Baker Hill Climb, Ski to Sea, Road maintenance.

What to Pack?

  • Elopement Details: wedding attire, cultural outfits, vow books, rings, florals/boutonniere, letters, gifts for each other
  • Food + Drinks: snacks, desserts, water, coffee/tea + mugs, summit beers/champagne (not for spraying photo)
  • Hiking Gear: hiking boots, warm puffy jacket, rain jacket, day pack, bug spray, sunscreen
  • Extra: umbrella, blanket, bungee cord to help strap dress/suit/flowers on backpack
  • Papers: marriage license, special-use permit (screenshot on phone)

Leave No Trace (LNT) Tips for Your Elopement:

  • Pick up any flower petals that fall off while hiking. One of us usually stays behind you to ensure we pick up any petals that fall.
  • When laying out your bags to get dressed, find an area that won’t be in the way of other hikers and keep all of your bags together.
  • Bring a Nalgene bottle to pour any drinks you might not finish. We want to avoid pouring out any beverages on the ground.
  • Layout a blanket for a picnic so you can keep all your crumbs on the blanket instead of being left behind.
  • Bring plastic baggie/stasher bag to carry/pack out any trash.
  • Stay on trails (keep dogs leashed on trail with us too).
  • Leave what you find and don’t take anything from nature like pebbles, rocks, or flowers (just take home memories and photos instead).
  • Check to see if there is a fire ban before making a fire. This is common out West during the summer season.
  • Be respectful of wildlife and keep a safe distance from them. Do not feed wildlife either.
  • Be respectful of other hikers by keeping down noise, don’t play loud music, make space for hikers to pass by on the trail, and being extra quiet around sunrise/sunset when other hikers are especially hiking for peace and quiet.
Bride practicing Leave no Trace for elopement in Mt. Baker

Mt. Baker Elopement Activity Ideas

A lot of couples ask us what activities they should do on their day. We usually recommend 1-3 total extra activities to make sure you have a relaxed and easygoing day with us! Between a few activities, your ceremony, and taking photos, we’ll have plenty of things to do to celebrate! These are some ideas we’ve seen from past couples!

  • Backpacking Picnic
  • Coffee/Tea
  • Picnic
  • First dance
  • Celebratory Drink (sparkling water for the trail)
  • Hiking
  • Snowshoeing
  • Read letters
  • Exchange Gifts
  • Off-roading
  • Fishing
  • Longboarding
  • Board games
  • Smoke a joint
activities you can do while exploring Mt. Baker National Forest

Mt. Baker Elopement Cabin Activities

Want to split your day between the great outdoors and cozy cabin vibes? We’re here for it! Sometimes after a sunrise hike and exchanging vows, you might want to head back to your cabin for more relaxing activities!

  • First Dance
  • Cake/Pizza/Charcuterie Board
  • Hot tub
  • Read letters
  • Hammock
  • Snuggle and watch a movie
  • Play board games or put together a puzzle

Cozy Cabin Ceremony

cabins in Mt. Baker

Best Lodging in Mt. Baker for Your Elopement

Vendors

Meet your Mt. Baker Elopement Photographer/Videographer

Hey there! We’re Ryan and Jaclyn Baer! We’ve been documenting elopements for the past 6 years, spending a lot of the past 3 summers in the Mt. Baker area with our couples! We are based in Washington and Colorado and enjoy sharing these mountains with our couples! In our free time, you’ll find us out on these trails backpacking, fly-fishing, painting, and enjoying the beauty of the summer season in Washington. We’d love to show you our favorite spots and help you plan an amazing wedding day that truly celebrates your relationship.

Where to visit after your Mt. Baker elopement?

Nearby locations to explore for your honeymoon or PNW Road-trip:
  • Leavenworth, Washington: A lot of our couples go to Leavenworth afterward. It’s a cute Bavarian town with lots of great hikes, food, and of course, german beer! It’s a great place to visit post-elopement because if you’re tired, you can relax in town and enjoy the mountains from a cute brewery. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can go on an epic nearby hike and explore as much as you want!
  • North Cascades National Park: Despite being physically close to Mt. Baker, accessing North Cascades NP from Mt. Baker is a bit of a drive! But it’s definitely worth checking out while you’re already so close to the National Park!
  • British Columbia: We will always recommend visiting Canada since you’ll only be about 30 minutes from the border. While Vancouver is great, if you can spend more time and drive up to Squamish or Whistler you won’t be disappointed!
  • Take a ferry from Anacortes: You can take a ferry from Anacortes to the San Juan Islands or even Vancouver Island over in Canada. If you’re looking to spend time near the water and enjoy a slower-paced destination, we recommend checking out the San Juan Islands!
  • Take a ferry from Fort Casey to Port Townsend: Drive across Whidbey Island and take a ferry to Port Townsend! You can easily explore Olympic National Park and the Olympic Peninsula by taking the short ferry ride over!
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