Post Summary: Glacier National Park is one of the most STUNNING places in the northwest, boasting diverse landscapes, wildlife galore, and phenomenal scenery everywhere you look. This makes it one of the top best places to elope, in my opinion – but there’s lots you need to know before saying your “I do’s” in the park! Below is a complete guide to how to elope in Glacier National Park in 2022-2023. I can’t wait to see what you plan at this incredible park!
Where is Glacier National Park?
Before we dive into the meat of this guide, where even is Glacier National Park?
Glacier National Park is located in Montana’s Rocky Mountains, encompassing just over 1,500 square miles of stunning wilderness & situated in the northwestern part of the state! The park was established way back in 1910 and has become super famous for its huge diversity of landscapes, from waterfalls to forests to alpine meadows to pristine glacial lakes.
There are a few towns close to Glacier National Park that you may have heard of, including Kalispell, which is about a 50 minute drive to West Glacier, and Whitefish, which is about 40 minutes from West Glacier!
How to Get to Glacier National Park
To get to Glacier National Park via plane, the most convenient airport to fly into is the Glacier Park International Airport (FCA) in Kalispell, Montana, then drive to the park. This airport is about 30 minutes from West Glacier, 1.5 hours from East Glacier, and a little over 2 hours from St. Mary Village.
Why Elope at Glacier National Park?
If you’re wondering “why should you visit Glacier National Park?” or “why is Glacier National Park a good place to elope?,” I’ve got answers for ya!
Glacier National Park is home to over 700 miles of beautiful hiking trails of different lengths, levels of difficulty, and accessibility levels. It’s a really great park that truly has something for EVERYBODY, whether you want to backpack 15 miles through the mountains or take a quick 15-minute walk to a gorgeous viewpoint with your guests!
In addition to the plentiful opportunities for hiking, Glacier has so many outdoor activities that are pretty dang hard to beat, from biking to horseback riding to whitewater rafting to fishing and more. Go ice fishing or snowshoeing in the winter, take a rock climbing trip in the summer, see the wildflowers in the spring, or check out the breathtaking scenery from above in a helicopter in the fall.
Or maybe you love being by the water and want to say your vows with a body of water close by: say your vows in front of a bright blue glacial lake, or hike through the forest to get to a towering waterfall surrounded by lush greenery!
Glacier National Park is an amazing place to elope for sooo many types of couples, for private elopements & intimate elopements with a few guests alike. No matter what level of adventure you’re looking for, when I say the opportunities to witness an insane amount of outdoor beauty are freaking endless, I mean it!
FAQ’s About Eloping at Glacier National Park
When is Glacier National Park open?
Glacier National Park is open year-round! However, keep in mind that certain trails & roads may be inaccessible through different parts of the year depending on weather. You can monitor current park conditions here to see alerts you need to know about in the weeks & days leading up to your elopement!
Can I bring my dog to Glacier National Park?
Pets are only allowed in certain developed areas in Glacier National Park, including amphitheaters, picnic areas, and parking areas. They are not permitted on trails or lakeshores outside of developed locations!
Here are the designated wedding locations where pets are allowed, as long as they are leashed & under control:
- Apgar Amphitheater/Picnic Area
- Fish Creek Amphitheater/Picnic Area
- Avalanche Amphitheater/Picnic Area
- Sprague Picnic Area
- Lake McDonald Lodge Beach
- Two Medicine Campground Amphitheater/Group Site/Picnic Area
- St. Mary Amphitheater
- Rising Sun Amphitheater
- Many Glacier CG Amphitheater
How much does it cost to get married at Glacier National Park?
A Glacier National Park Wedding Permit costs $125, and an additional monitoring fee of $50/hour may apply depending on the details of your elopement!
Where can I get married in Glacier National Park?
Glacier is suuuper prepared when it comes to giving couples helpful, clear guidance on where they can & can’t get married in the park! You can get married at any of the designated Glacier National Park Wedding Locations listed here, each of which has its own limits, restrictions, & rules in place.
A few of the popular spots in the park where you CANNOT hold your elopement ceremony include: Logan Pass, Many Glacier Valley
I recommend keeping an eye on the Glacier National Park Weddings webpage via the National Park Service to stay up to date on open + closed locations, as well as road + trail statuses!
Do you need reservations to enter Glacier National Park?
It depends on where you’re visiting. You may need a reservation & an entry pass, or you may just need an entry pass on its own – skip down to this section for info on permits & entry into Glacier National Park!
Are there bears at Glacier National Park?
Yes there are! It’s super important to get familiar with bear safety in a park like this where you’re visiting the home of black bears & grizzly bears, and intruding in their space.
The NPS website has a bunch of great tips about bear safety – below are a few of the most crucial tips to keep in mind!
- Keep a safe distance – maintain at least 25 yards from wildlife! “If you’re causing the behavior of the animal to change, you’re too close.”
- Watch for roadside bears – if you see a bear on the road, travel at least 100 yards before pulling over in a safe location to look at it. Do not stop next to it to look at it!
- Make noise – bears will typically move out of the way if they hear people approaching! You don’t want to surprise them.
- Secure food & garbage – this one is key to making sure bears don’t pay you/your campsite a visit. Don’t leave food or garbage unattended at a campground, in your backpack, etc!
- Bring bear spray – have bear spray with you in case you have to spray it into the face of an oncoming bear.
Best Time of Year to Elope at Glacier National Park
The weather inside of Glacier National Park can be extreme & unpredictable, so it’s important to choose the right season for your elopement!
The best time of year to elope in Glacier National Park is between July & August. During these summer months, you’re least likely to experience cloudy/rainy days + cold temperatures in the mornings and evenings, and you can best avoid snow at higher elevations!
Winter is NOT the best time to elope in Glacier National Park, as most of the park is covered in snow, and winter conditions can cause unpleasant obstacles such as unexpected road closures. I wouldn’t recommend eloping in the winter unless you’re planning to elope outside of the park, and then venture into the park for some snowshoeing or ice fishing!
If you want to elope in the spring or fall, be aware of the possibility of early/late snowfall causing road or trail closures at higher elevations. Definitely pack a good amount of layers, especially in the spring and fall, because temperatures can fluctuate drastically from daytime to the late evenings & early mornings – because hey, you are in the mountains after all!
8 Best Places to Elope in Glacier National Park
Now, it’s time to talk about LOCATION: where in the park should you elope?! You should start off by looking through the park’s designated Wedding Locations list to find out where you are & aren’t allowed to hold your ceremony!
Below are my 8 top favorite places to elope in Glacier National Park, including both places for official ceremonies & places for elopement portraits. I’ve got more locations up my sleeve that are specially reserved for my booked couples 😉
Going-to-the-Sun-Road is one of the most iconic spots in Glacier National Park, boasting incredible alpine meadow & mountain valley views that are pretty dang hard to beat! You cannot hold your elopement ceremony along this road – only take elopement portraits here.
2. Lake McDonald (West Glacier)
Lake McDonald is another popular tourist spot in the park, with stunning views of snow-capped mountains, plenty of opportunities for hiking, and even a lodge you can stay at! You can hold your ceremony at the Lake McDonald Lodge Beach, or take informal elopement portraits around the lake.
3. Avalanche Lake (West Glacier)
Avalanche Lake is a to-die-for location in West Glacier, accessible via a 5.9-mile out & back trail of just moderate difficulty! I HIGHLY recommend taking elopement portraits here, and/or holding your ceremony at the Avalanche Creek Picnic Area.
4. St. Mary Lake Shoreline (East Glacier)
I know what you’re thinking – how many breathtaking lakes can there be in one park?! MANY. St. Mary Lake is located on the east side of the park with dazzling views, diverse wildlife, and incredible fall foliage. You can exchange vows right on the lake shoreline while looking out at the insane scenery this 10-mile long lake has to offer!
5. Grinnell Lake (Many Glacier)
Grinnell Lake is not a designated wedding location, but you can still take portraits there! The hike to this beautiful blue lake starts near the south end of the Many Glacier Hotel, and takes you on a 3-mile round trip trek to the lake, which sits just below Grinnell Falls.
6. Lake Josephine (Many Glacier)
Lake Josephine is another gorgeous lake in the Many Glacier area where you can take elopement photos, but not hold your official ceremony. It’s an absolutely phenomenal place to experience sunrise from, and is the perfect elopement location if you want to take a little dip after all the official parts of the day are done!
7. Two Medicine
Two Medicine is a valley located in the southeast section of the park and is definitely one of the more underrated parts of Glacier. You can tie the knot at the Two Medicine Picnic Area with stunning mountain views in the background as you say your vows, and there’s space to have a few of your most loved guests attend, too!
8. North Fork
Finally, North Fork is another underrated part of Glacier with plenty of incredible spots for hiking, backpacking, kayaking, camping, and fishing! It’s one of the best places to access the more remote wilderness of the park, and you can hold your ceremony at the Bowman Lake Day Use Area, the Juniper River Access Area, & the Kintla Lake Day Use Area.
5 Fun Things to Do Near Glacier National Park
Now that you know some of the best locations to get married at Glacier National Park, what else in the area is there to do?
Answer: TONS! There are countless opportunities for outdoor adventure of all levels of thrill + difficulty. Below are 5 things to do near Glacier National Park that you will not want to miss, and that would be SO fun to incorporate into your elopement day!
1. Go kayaking on Lake McDonald, Bowman Lake, or Two Medicine Lake
2. Go white water rafting on the blue waters of the Flathead River
3. Go horseback riding through the jaw-dropping mountain landscapes
4. Zipline through the canopy
5. Have a picnic lunch overlooking the mountains, glacial lakes, & alpine meadows
What to Pack for Your Glacier National Park Elopement
Because Glacier National Park is, well, a national park, out in the wilderness, packing + preparing the right items is key! In addition to your elopement attire + items (e.g. vow books, marriage certificate) and regular hiking gear, here are some items you won’t want to forget to pack for your elopement in Glacier National Park:
- Water (and lots of it!)
- Proper footwear
- Hiking backpack
- Clothing layers
- Bear spray
- Bug spray
Don’t forget to also download any offline maps + trail info you may need for your elopement in case you run out of cell service!
Glacier National Park Wedding Permits
Due to a major rise in popularity in visitors to Glacier National Park in recent years, the park has become a lot more strict about permits + passes! You need to make sure you not only get the correct permit to legally hold your ceremony in the park, but that you also get the passes needed to visit and park a vehicle on park grounds.
Below are the three different passes, permits, & reservations you may need to get married in Glacier National Park!
Glacier has recently put a vehicle reservation program in place in an effort to reduce congestion and protect park resources, so a vehicle reservation has now been required to visit the Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor & North Fork area. You can make your vehicle reservations in advance & get specific details via Recreation.gov.
This original pilot program was only in effect from May 27-September 11 2022, but you’ll want to pay attention & do research ahead of time on the NPS website to see if the requirements continue in the future!
Glacier National Park Entry Pass
You’ll also need a pass to enter the park, which you can purchase online at Recreation.gov or at certain park entrances! A Glacier Annual Pass, which is valid for entry of one vehicle, costs $70, and a 7-day vehicle pass costs between $25-$35. You can also get a 7-day individual pass for $15-$20 per person if you’ll be walking or biking into the park!
Glacier National Park Special Use Permit
Finally, you’ll need a Special Use Permit to get married in Glacier National Park. This permit is required whether you’re having an unofficial vow exchange or a legally-officiated ceremony, and is NOT required if you’re simply entering the park with a photographer to take portraits (without a ceremony, vow exchange, signing of documents, etc.).
A Glacier National Park Special Use Permit allows you to get married at any of the designated Wedding Locations. Each location has its own limits on the number of people, number of vehicles, and amount of equipment that can be used!
Your permit will most likely be written for two hours of use (not including time for pictures), and may require a permit monitor for an additional fee of $50/hour depending on the details of your ceremony.
Here’s how to get a Glacier National Park wedding permit:
1. Download the permit application
2. Look through permit info & designated wedding locations
3. Fill out the application using information from above documents
4. Send your completed application & $125 payment (via check or money order) to the address below, or email to email@example.com:
Glacier National Park
Attn: Special Park Uses
PO Box 128
West Glacier, MT 59936
5. Sign & return a copy once you’ve received your final permit
Note that once your permit is written & sent to you, you can’t change your location or time – you’ll have to submit an entirely new permit if you’d like to do so.
Montana Marriage License + Laws
Before getting married in Glacier National Park, it’s important to familiarize yourself with Montana’s marriage laws regarding marriage licenses, officiants, witnesses, etc. The laws surrounding marriage differ by state (and even by county!), so make sure you know what the process will look like to get your Montana marriage license!
Here are the basics to know about Montana marriage laws:
- MT residency required? No
- Minimum age requirement: 16
- Witnesses required: 2
- Waiting period: None
- Length of license validity: 180 days
- MT marriage license fee: $53
- Blood test required? Yes, only for women under the age of 50
The closest county courthouse to Glacier National Park is the Flathead County Courthouse. This courthouse processes marriage license applications from 8:00-4:30 daily.
To get your Montana marriage license through the Flathead County Courthouse, follow the steps below:
1. Apply for your marriage license online
2. Visit the Clerk of Court’s office in-person (both of you) to sign the application & provide valid photo ID
3. After signing your license, pay the $53 in cash (or via credit card with an additional $2.31 fee)
The courthouse will help guide you through any other necessary steps, and you’ll be good to go & legally get married in the state of Montana right away – there’s no waiting period required!
For any questions you have regarding getting your marriage license through the Flathead County Courthouse, you can give them a call at (406) 758-5659.
Best Lodging Near Glacier National Park
Because Glacier National Park is SUCH a poppin’ tourist location, there are tonsss of amazing options when it comes to lodging + accommodations! Whether you’d like to stay super close to the park in a stunning resort, book a cozy cabin just a short drive from a park entrance where your friends & fam can stay, or find a unique place to stay (for example: a chic, mountain-view silo in the middle of Kalispell?!), you’ve got choices galore.
Take a look at some of the best places to stay in/near Glacier National Park – including West Glacier, East Glacier, Kalispell, & Whitefish!
Lodging in West Glacier
Lodging in East Glacier
Lodging in Kalispell
Lodging in Whitefish
Now that you’re a total pro when it comes to eloping in Glacier National Park, you’re probably going to start the journey soon to find your Glacier National Park elopement photographer to capture the big day! Not only is it important to plan out your dream day carefully + intentionally; you need to make sure you have somebody there to document it all so you don’t have to worry about pulling out your phone camera every other minute of the day.
I’d be humbled and honored to be that person for you, and luckily, I’m a Glacier National Park fanatic – so you bet I’m familiar with the park and have tons of amazing spots up my sleeve! As a Glacier National Park elopement photographer, I’m ready to not only document the story of your elopement in a way that’s meaningful + authentic to you, but to also help you plan the elopement of your dreams. I’m a firm believer in not only capturing the important moments (both big & small), but also guiding you every step of the way through my knowledge & expertise as an elopement photographer.
Find out more about my approach to elopement photography here, or learn more about me here – and when you’re ready to make things official – or even just start chatting – you can contact me here! Can’t freaking wait to hear alllll about your Glacier National Park elopement dreams!
Elopement Packages and Pricing for Glacier National Park
- 4 hours – 2 days of elopement photography coverage anywhere in Montana
- Your own personal elopement guide & consultant
- Unique and personalized location scouting
- Vendor recommendations
- Permit and marriage license assistance
- Hand-crafted elopement timeline
- Created just-for-you activity list
- Unlimited guides and resources
- 100+ page How to Elope Guidebook
- Optional complimentary officiant service
- Digital online gallery with full resolution image and printing rights
- Sneak peek images within 1 week
- Photographer travel fees covered anywhere in Montana
Starting at $6,500
Glacier National Park Elopement Vendors
One of the most crucial parts of your elopement is the vendor team you hire! It’s so important to make sure you hire people who you connect with, who you can put 1000% of your trust in, and who are talented enough to bring your dreams + visions to life. Below are some awesome Glacier National Park elopement + wedding vendors that I recommend checking out!
Glacier National Park Officiant: Kate Berry Joyful
Glacier National Park Florist: Rose Mountain Floral
Glacier National Park Hair Stylist: Rachel Hadley Beauty
Glacier National Park Caterer: Fork in the Road Catering
Glacier National Park Bake Shop: Fleur Bake Shop
More United States Adventure Elopement Resources
It’s okay if you haven’t fully decided on Glacier National Park for your adventure elopement location yet!! Fortunately, I’m an expert on wayyyy more locations than just Glacier – so check out more of my elopement guides below to find your perfect destination!
National Park Elopement Guides
PIN FOR LATER
In order to make your dream elopement day happen, it's super important that we connect and that you feel comfortable with me! The best way to do this is to reach out and schedule a call so you can learn more about me and I can learn about you two so i can document what's real + the most important to you.