How to Plan a Wedding at Mount Baker

A bride and groom stand on a fire tower with their dogs nearby as they watch sunset on their wedding day.

With over 100,000 acres of pristine wilderness land, the Mount Baker Wilderness has so many places for you to explore for your adventure wedding or elopement. This wilderness is located in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The Cascade Range of northern Washington state has a lot of rugged beauty in these remote mountains. Mount Baker is also considered an active volcano. Because of the thermal activity in the area, there are also a lot of great natural hot springs that you can soak in at the end of your wedding or elopement day.

Why You Should Get Married at Mount Baker

While the national parks in the area such as North Cascades National Park make for more popular wedding locations, if you want something a little less popular and a little more remote and private, Mount Baker makes a great wedding or elopement location in Washington. When you choose to elope or even if you want to have an adventure wedding with a few guests, you probably don’t want a lot of tourists around. 

If you want to include your dogs or other pets at your wedding or elopement at Mount Baker, you can! National parks have restrictive rules around pets, but being in the national forest, Mount Baker makes a great pet friendly elopement location in Washington. 

The national parks in Washington do require permits for ceremonies. While it is always good to double check if permit rules change, currently the national forest and wilderness surrounding Mount Baker does not require permits. When permits aren’t required, it can make planning out locations and timing for your wedding or elopement easier. It allows you to have a lot of flexibility and less restrictions when planning out your day. Just be sure to follow Leave No Trace!

Mount Baker is also a super family friendly elopement location where you do not have to give up the view for accessibility or your own adventure on a split day or multi day elopement in this region.

The basic break down of planning your wedding in Mount Baker:

  • Decide to elope in Mount Baker, woot woot!!!!!!!
  • Pick a date (we recommend a day in August or September!)
  • Book a photographer
  • Dive into planning with this photographer to narrow down locations + ideas
  • Book travel: Flight, Car + Stay
  • Get Marriage License for the state of Washington (Whatcom county is closest to the Mount Baker area + you can do it online for this county!)
  • Book other vendors needed if any + purchase attire
  • Pack – make sure you have everything for the wedding aspect + the adventure
  • Travel + Arrive
  • Have a freaking epic day in the mountains together getting married!!!
  • Looking back on those photos forever as you go through life together <3

Mount Baker Wedding and Elopement Locations

Mount Baker has so many options for weddings and elopements. Some locations require a bit of hiking and other locations are more easily accessible if you are having guests. The Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest has some of the best mountain views in the United States. Whether you want snow capped peaks, wildflowers, lakes, or waterfalls. Mount Baker has a lot to offer! There are tons of different trails and options to elope in this area, due to Leave No Trace we do not like to name names for places that aren’t super well known or popular, but here are a few epics you have probably already seen photos of and didn’t even know.

When looking at getting married in the Mt Baker area it is important to understand there are two main access areas to trials and the mountain. You have the North side which is closer to Glacier, Maple Falls, Deming and Bellingham. You have the South side which is closer to Burlington, Concrete, North Cascades National Park and Sedro-Wooley.

Artist Point

Artist Point is located at the ending of the Mount Baker Scenic Byway. The views from Artist Point are absolutely stunning. Some people even say that Artist Point offers the best panoramic views of mountains in the entire state of Washington! You’ll have great views of both Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan here. This location is also in our opinion the most family friendly elopement location in the state, the most views with the easiest access. Don’t get me wrong there are some epic trails leaving from this area too!

Artist Point is a popular location though so you want to plan for the right time. We recommend avoiding weekends if you want to elope here. This location is very popular at sunset, but it is also super beautiful, and more quiet, at sunrise. From about July to late September, you can drive all the way to Artist Point. You can also snowshoe to Artist Point in the winter, late fall or late spring. But we do have to watch the avalanche risk to determine if it is safe. Hiring us as experienced elopement photographers can take a lot of the pressure off of you!

A couple sits together holding each other at sunrise in the mountains for their elopement day at artist point.

Heather Meadows and Picture Lake

Located just down the road from Artist Point is Heather Meadows and Picture Lake. Heather Meadows and Picture Lake offer some very similar views to Artist Point but are a bit more accessible. Did you know that Mount Baker is one of the snowiest places in North America? With over 600 inches of snow a year, this place truly is a winter wonderland. The great thing about this area is that it is plowed year round. So if you are looking for those top of the mountain views in winter, Heather Meadows is a great area. Picture Lake really is stunning in summer or fall when all the snow and ice melts. These areas are also great for family elopements due to the fact that they are easy to access and there are less restrictions than a national park.

Fire Towers Around Mount Baker

There are about a dozen fire lookout towers throughout the Mount Baker region that make for epic elopement locations. These used to be used during the 1900s to watch for forest fires in the region. But now they can make for some really unique wedding venues and elopement locations if you’re up for some hiking! If you want to backpack around Mount Baker, you can even stay overnight in one of the many fire towers.

The fire towers can be busy and the first come first serve ones can be hard to get. However, there is always tent camping locations open near by. We have a few favorite that are epic for an elopement. You can expect to hike anywhere from 3-9 miles to elope at one of these.

A couple stands on the balcony of a fire tower in the Mount Baker Wilderness.
Overnight back packing elopement on the south side in a fire tower.

Baker Lake

Baker Lake is just down from the mountains and offers camping, kayaking, paddleboarding, hiking, and other adventures. This lake is a popular place due to being able to easily access but with the lake being 9 miles long, there are a lot of areas to still find some solitude along this lake. Multiple hikes even go up above the lake. Old growth forests, lake shores, and great views of Mount Baker make this a beautiful location for weddings and elopements. The different types of scenery also make this a great location because of all the diversity in locations. 

Natural Hot Springs

Due to its volcanic nature, Mount Baker has a number of natural hot springs in the area. Some of these areas are more popular than others and it is important to know the best times to go if you want to take elopement photos at these hot springs. Keep in mind that some of the hot springs are technically warm springs, meaning that they aren’t as hot but are warm, usually around 80-85ºF or so.

Mount Baker Wedding Venues

The region immediately surrounding Mount Baker doesn’t have a ton of options for wedding venues. If you want to get married at Mount Baker, it’d be better to have a smaller adventure wedding or elopement. There aren’t a lot of areas that can support larger weddings. We specialize in smaller weddings and elopements and can help you find the perfect spot! We recommend looking into the less traditional wedding venue options for Mount Baker such as Vrbo, the national forest, campgrounds, picnic shelters, and lodges.

We typically recommend to our couples if they have over 15-20 people to consider renting a view for anything they are doing with the group wether that be the ceremony, dinner and/or mini reception. This helps a lot with logistics on the mountain like parking, space and following Leave No Trace.

Check out some of the below wedding venue options…

  • Mount Baker Getaways – In the mountains this option is for up to 40 people and includes a night stay at the cabin!
  • Wandering Waters – This option is for up to 90 people. Located in Maple Falls it is super easy access to trails and mountains.
  • Mount Mountain Lodge – Close to the mountains, this option is on the higher end price wise of this list, BUT you can stay here and there is camping options on property as well. Hey, it’s 20 acres! Perfect for an evening celebrating the day!
  • Twin Sisters Brewery – located in town (Bellingham) so this is great if you want to go on a morning adventure out in the mountains and come back to town to party with your guests. They have many options for space and guest count ranging from 20-150 people.
  • Van Wyck Farm in Bellingham – This is perfect because your guests can stay close to town you can do a ceremony and/or reception here. What we love most is that you can stay on property in their glamping tent!
  • The Boathouse Bellingham – Go from the mountains at sunrise to the coast for sunset! You can rent this space pending your needs, great views for a large group dinner.
A groom swepts his bride off of her feet as the stand on top of a mountain ridge with a larger mountain behind them.
Adventure Elopement Photographer – Artist Point Washington

When to Elope in the Mount Baker Region

Mount Baker makes a good year round elopement location. It really just depends on what kind of weather you like and what kind of adventures you prefer! Keep in mind that the full snowmelt sometimes doesn’t happen until August. But thanks to the ski resort, parts of the region are accessible most of the year.

In short the very best time to elope in the Mount Baker area would be July to mid September.

Spring

Particularly during May and June, is a good time if you want a little less snow but want to avoid the busier tourist season. Due to being located further north and being at higher elevations, don’t expect spring to be all warm weather and wildflowers! Snow sticks around long into summer, so most wildflowers don’t bloom until summer. Higher elevations may still be not accessible or only accessible by snow show.

Summer

This is the best time if you want to elope at one of the higher elevation lakes, if you want to hike at some of the higher elevations, or if you really want to get married among the wildflowers around Mount Baker. This can be the busiest time of year so keep that in mind when selecting your locations and planning.

Fall

This time of year sees less tourism and you can catch some great colors when the huckleberry bushes change color in their leaves. Some trails have become “insta famous” for their fall colors and larches here, but there is so much beauty all around the area this time of year. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to catch fall colors at the right time when there is a dusting of snow on Mount Baker and the surrounding mountain peaks. I would say October is the best Fall month to get married at Mt baker.

Winter

In the Cascades truly is a sight to behold. When we say it looks like a winter wonderland, we really mean it! If you’re down for snowshoeing or cross country skiing and can deal with a bit of cold and the snow, it really is worth it to plan a snowy winter elopement around Mount Baker. Keep in mind that some higher elevations have more of an avalanche risk. Lower elevations in this area typically have less avalanche risk and you can always soak in a hot spring afterwards! I would ideally say in the Winter December is your best option!

A snowy mountain with alpine glow on it during sunset.
A view from Mt Baker Ski resort in December.

How to Get to Mt Baker?

This is the most North Mountain Range in the state of Washington. The most popular airport to fly into WA for most visits is SEA-TAC airport in Seattle. If you are going to the North Side of the Mountain versus the South side the drive difference is about 1.5-2 hours depending where you are going. A closer option in general to the area is Bellingham Airport, it is smaller and can cost more to fly into. If you are looking for a fun idea, you can always fly into Seattle and then take a sea plane to get closer to the area.

Maybe you are coming from Alaska (pre honeymoon!? Heck yea!) you can fly or ferry right into the Bellingham area. You will for sure need to rent a car for your visit here as there is public transportation from Bellingham and Seattle the buses stop running at Maple Falls on the North side and the same with the South side.

Where to Stay near Mt Baker?

When looking for an Airbnb for your elopement or wedding day there are a few things to consider: light, space, experience (drive times, amenities) and comfort. Here are a few of our favorite selections from the area:

  • This Airbnb has photos of a small weddings, so you can stay here and potentially hold your wedding here if you have too many guests to go up the mountain with. Be sure to ask the host permission before booking!
  • This beautiful romantic cabin is super close to the trails, comes with a hot tub, suana and a great space to hangout and for getting ready photos! In this past elopements and dinners have been okay on this property, just always be sure to ask!
  • We love this modern cabin tucked away into the woods, with a little more room so it is perfect for a smaller group.
  • On the other side of the mountain (South) you will find this cute A-frame with river views! This is perfect of anything in the North Cascades or this side of Baker.

If Airbnb’s, camping, backpacking, or glamping is not what you are looking for I would suggest considering staying closer to the town of Bellingham where you can find a nice hotel!

A couple holds hands and looks at each other as a glacier on a mountain stands out behind them.
Summer elopement on the south side of the mountain.

Activity Ideas for Mount Baker Elopements and Adventure Weddings 

The great thing about Mount Baker, is there are so many things to do in the area! The thing is though, there are so many options it can be a bit overwhelming. When it comes to choosing what activities you may want to include, think about what you enjoy in your everyday life and choose something you’re experienced at and love.

Or, depending on the activity, you could choose to experience something totally new together to make a truly memorable elopement or wedding day around Mount Baker! Here at Adventure and Vow, you guessed it, we focus on wedding days centered around experiencing a place and the wedding together purposefully.

We believe adventure weddings offer folks the chance to have an authentic day to what marriage is all about: taking what life hands you, helping each other, supporting each other, connecting and ticking things off of that bucket list together!

  • Snowshoeing and Skiing in Winter
  • Kayaking, Paddleboarding, and Boating on Baker Lake or a back country alpine lake
  • Camping and Backpacking
  • Climbing Near Bellingham or the North Cascades National Park
  • Hiking into the Mountains of Washington
  • Have a picnic at a waterfall
  • Take Flight on a Seaplane on a lake in the mountains or on the San Juan Islands
  • Off-Roading
  • Relax in a hot spring or a cute cabin’s hot tub

A girl leans her head back into the hot spring as the sun creates a mist around the couple as they are surrounded by forest.
Hot Springs session in April, best at sunrise for no crowds.
A view of a waterfall in early spring near Mt baker.

Example timelines for an elopement day in Mt Baker….

  • Meet at sunrise for a hike to the falls for morning coffee + writing vows
  • Go back to Airbnb for getting ready in Cabin together + casual hanging out
  • Leave for trail for hiking into location for sunset ceremony
  • Hike back as we star gaze for the milky way
  • Dinner at Airbnb set up by chef
  • End the night in the hot tub at cabin

Mount Baker offers a great chance for a multi-day elopement with just you two or a day with just you two and then another day celebrating with friends/family. Here is an example of what a multi-day elopement could look like in this area. It is so important to know that each elopement day look so different from the next because they are based on what is important to each couple and who they are.

Day 1

Sunrise Hike to a fire tower for ceremony + picnic

Hike back and head to the lake

Tear down camp + go kayaking in the lake

Day 2

Meet at Ferry Terminal in Bellingham

Take a Sea Plane to Diablo Lake

Hike + Have lunch in the North Cascades

End at Coastal State park for sunset reading letters from Family + Friends

How to Get a Marriage License & Get Legally Married in Washington

To get legally married in Washington is pretty straightforward but there are a few important steps to follow and regulations to know about. Mount Baker is in Whatcom County in Washington, but a marriage license obtained from any county in Washington State can be used to get married anywhere in Washington. You do not have to reside in the state to apply for a marriage license. 

The easiest way to get the marriage license is to apply online within 60 days of your wedding date. Fun fan, Whatcom county is the only one in WA state you can get the paperwork online! There is a 3 day waiting period which happens the day the license is processed at the county office. So if you are getting it in person be sure to plan your travel with this in mind. Your marriage license will then be valid for 60 days following the 3 day waiting period. Your ceremony will require an officiant and 2 witnesses. 

No matter if you are using us as your officiant or an elopement guest they have 30 days from the date of the ceremony to return the marriage certificate to the county office. They will then make a record of the certificate and mail you a certified copy. Learn more on the Whatcom County website.

Mount Baker Wedding Permit

Outside of the marriage license you may also need a permit to elope in the Mount Baker area. It is important either way to be aware of Leave No Trace and the rules Mount Baker National Forest Lands has in place surrounding elopements. We stay as up to date as we can with permits and information, but it is always important to contact the source prior to your wedding day. To contact the FS ranger for the Mount Baker NF please send an email to this email address: [email protected]

A couple stands together at the first light of day with clouds around the mountains on top of a large tree stump by the lake.
Early Spring elopement on the South Side of the Mountain.

Mount Baker Elopement Packages

It is important to understand when you book an elopement photographer you are booking someone who will intimately spend this day with you two. You want to book a photographer you like their work and you connect with them well. Elopement photographers are all different, if you are doing a hiking elopement you need to hire someone with hiking experience when photographing an elopement, same with backpacking, kayaking, etc. We highly recommend either contacting us to learn more about our elopement packages and/or reading through our packages page! Our elopement packages start at 4 hour mini elopements for $3800 and go all the way to multi-day packages starting at $8500.

A man and woman smile while looking at each other with all of their adventure gear ready to go.

Need a Photographer for Your Elopement in Mount Baker?

We are Traci and Bill, and we’re an adventure elopement photographer team. We’re local to Mount Baker and live just down the road from Artist Point! We’re more than just photographers and offer planning assistance to couples and we’re both ordained as well. 

We both love the Pacific Northwest and that’s why we decided to make this place home. We’d love to share our hidden gems and “local’s secrets” about the Mount Baker Region with you so you can enjoy this incredible place for your wedding day! Our photography is based around each couple’s connection with each other and the beautiful places they explore. We’d love to tell the story of your day in a creative and authentic way and help you along the way so you have an experience that goes beyond photos. Be sure to check out our elopement packages and get in touch with us to talk more about your day!

Nearby Locations to Check Out or Have your Honeymoon!

Whether you are looking for other places to get married at or you want to visit different areas or include various adventures, the greater Mount Baker area has so many other spots to explore! There’s a lot of things to do and places to go. That is one of the most wonderful things about eloping in Washington, because there are so many places to go and visit and different things to do you can get married and honeymoon all in one.

The Town of Bellingham, Washington

The closest city with amenities to Mount Baker is in Bellingham, Washington coming from the North side. It’s an hour’s drive but with stunning mountain views the entire way, it really isn’t that bad of a drive. Bellingham is a coastal town, with a port for getting to and from Alaska by water, with lots of outdoor activities as well. Bellingham also has a cheap, short direct flight to Alaska!

The quaint downtown has lots of coffee shops, restaurants, farmers’ markets, shops, and grocery stores. Some of our personal favorites in the area are Makeworth Market for coffee and Black Sheep for tacos and drinks. We highly recommend staying here if you want to be in town or at least stopping by for a visit. If you are visiting the South side of Mt Baker your closest town with amenities is Burlington or Sedro-Woolley, which are lovely, but not as quaint and fun 🙂

Canada

Mt Baker (the North Side) is about 10 minutes to an hour away from the Canadian border. Some areas easily accessible from this part of the US to Canada that would be worth the honeymoon trip would be: Vancouver, Whistler, Pinecone Burke Provincial Park and/or the climbing mecca of Squamish.

Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier National Park has miles upon miles of trails, endless waterfalls, stunning glaciers, as well as quieter little nooks. Alpine flower meadows surround Mount Rainier at the higher elevations and beautiful old growth forests grow at slightly lower elevations. We actually eloped at Mount Rainier ourselves

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park in Washington offers so much variety when it comes to planning an adventure elopement. As one of the most diverse national parks in the states, it has mountains, beautiful lakes, beaches along the ocean, a rainforest, and a large variety of activities to do. We really think it is underrated as a national park and more people need to come experience the beauty of this place!

The San Juan Islands

The San Juan Islands is a super romantic place to elope or spend your honeymoon after being in the mountains with stunning sunsets, beautiful ocean views, and lots to do. You can get married along the beaches, on of of the many trails, or even near a lighthouse. Not to mention boating between islands whale watching as an epic day to end the evening.

Leavenworth, Washington

Leavenworth could be described as a Bavarian style village located in the beautiful Cascade Mountain range. The town is known for beer gardens, beer cheese, and pretzels, along with mountain ranges full of skiing, climbing, river floating and hiking. It’s a great year round destination. There’s no shortage of fun adventures along with great places to eat at in Leavenworth!

A groom wraps his hand around his bride as they take in the mountain view along the trial together.

“Their professionalism is unparalleled. Their planning was incredibly in depth, structured and yet still open to any changes that may have come along the way. Their communication was consistent and thorough. They handled so many details that we would have never thought to consider. We are beyond happy with their work!

Their teamwork was incredible Traci captured photos I thought were only in fairytales and Bill performed a ceremony for us that exceeded our own idea of perfect. They scouted sites and led us on the most incredible hike we could’ve imagined. As if their professionalism wasn’t enough they genuinely are a great couple to hang out with. They made our wedding day more than we could’ve ever imagined and we left with stories to tell for a lifetime. Thank you, thank you Adventure and Vow! Truly the best!” – Troy + Samantha

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Looking for more information??? Check out these other blog posts for more resources on an adventure elopement out in the mountains with us! <3

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