A fire tower is housing for folks who are looking over the lands to make sure no fires have started. Some fire towers are still active, meaning park rangers still stay in them. Some are no longer active and you can visit the inside or even camp inside! Eloping at a Fire tower is great because of the 360 degree sweeping views they offer and they offer a fun a place to get ready if it is one you can go into and reserve for privacy! Not to mention Fire lookouts offer a unique elopement experience and location! They are also stunning places to see the the sunrise and/or sunset. Often times you will catch unreal cloud conversion between yourself at the fire tower and the mountains below, a unforgettable experience. Fire towers differ, but some have a lot less trail traffic as well since some require a 4x4 to get to or a permit. Did I mention you could camp at some of these?! Welp, you can! What an epic way to elope, hike to a stunning place, have killer views of the stars all night and wake up to a mountain!
Fire towers are also great locations for your adventurous engagement session, vow renewal or anniversary session <3
There are fire towers all of the United States over 8000 to be exact, in this blog I am going to focus on the ones in Washington. There are currently 93 fire towers in Washington state, so let’s break this down a little better for which ones are best for an elopement.
Mount Rainier National Park
In Mount Rainier there are four fire towers. The most popular being Fremount Lookout, then Tolmie, Shriner Peak and Gobbler’s Knob. While Mount Rainier has restrictions on where you can hold a ceremony in the park you take your portraits almost anywhere. The fire tower lookouts are great options for epic views of the mountain, a good hike and a nice place to hang out. Fremont is about a 5.6 mile hike coming from Sunrise Visitor center, it sees lots of visitors and for good reason! It is one of the best places to see a sunrise, sunset or cloud conversion in the park! Tolmie is literally my blow your socks of hike, I have never been so moved by the view in front of me at sunrise than on this trail. It is less crowded, partially because it’s trail access is not central in the park and is down along dirt road. Shriner peak is a harder, longer trail in the park, but with the same epic views of Mount Rainier. Gobbler’s Knob is a bit out there too, on the most West side of the National Park. It is also a longer hiker, making it hopefully pretty secluded for a place to spend your wedding day!
Fire Lookouts outside of Mount Rainier National Park, but same great views:
You may not want to deal with National Park traffic or entrance fees on your elopement day, but may want the same view of Mount Rainier’s beauty. Do not worry! There are several Fire Towers that showcase Mount Rainier’s beauty from outside of the park with even shorter hikes! There are two Fire Towers just outside of the park off of long winding dirt roads with 1-3.5 miles of hiking to get to them. One is best for sunrise and you must have no fear when it comes to heights and cliff edges and the other is super family friendly and best at sunset. Since these are shorter hikes you are bound to have some folks at them, so it is important to set the expectation that you may not be alone! The third one outside of the park, but with the same views is a bit further from the park and off of a longer dirt road, but incredible! You can also camp along the road so if you’re getting there for sunrise you can be closer!
Fire Towers Not Near Mount Rainier at all, but BOMB locations!
Evergreen Fire Lookout - This is just a bit over a three mile hike to get to with 360 degree views of mountains. It is located near Index, Washington. The biggest reason this one makes it on the list is because you can camp here! You have to make a reservation to camp and need to pay an $85 dollar fee, but what an experince for your elopement morning/evening!
Hidden Lakes Lookout - If you are looking for one heck of an adventure on elopement day and a two day elopement you may want to consider this lookout! It is a 8.5 mile hike and extreme snow fall can be present until July, so you want to plan carefully here. The views are astounding! For planning and overnight usage you want to talk to the Mt Baker Ranger district.
Park Butte - This 7.2 mile hike will take you through some beautiful scenery in the Mt Baker Wilderness. The lookout is nestled along the rock with incredible views. You guessed it, you can also camp here!
The fire towers are overlooking the mountains, so they are high in elevation! Each Fire tower is different, but ideally you want to consider July-October, but be sure to check weather conditions, road conditions, snow fall and check in with the rangers when planning.
Once you have started planning with your photographer and chosen where and when you want to elope you need to check in with the park rangers to make sure you can pull any permits you may need to get married there. If it is a fire tower that you can not hold the ceremony at then you will need to do the paper work portion prior. Check to be sure to get your camping reservation or be sure you know which pass you need for parking (i.e. - National Park pass, discovery pass, etc). Some of the Fire Towers require a 4x4 to be able to go to the trail head so make sure you have the proper car or rental. You want to keep and eye on weather as you get closer to your elopement date for road closures are common in Washington as snow fall begins to impact the road condiditons. Essentials to pack for your Fire Tower elopement is the right hiking shoes, water, binoculars , possibly hiking poles since some of these trails can be quite steep.
I have a whole blog on this! If you want a more in depth answer check it out! Basically you need an officiant and two witnesses to legally get married in Washington State.
I have hiked mile and miles through the Washington mountains with you in mind! I am here to help you find the perfect place to get married, walk with you through the logistics of planning and there to capture all the connected, authentic moments on the big day! From Fire towers to sail boats around the San Juans, I got you covered! Reach out to me about your elopement! I can’t wait to get to know you two!