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How to Elope at Mt. Baker | Mt. Baker Elopement & Wedding Guide

view of mt. baker

Post Summary: Mt. Baker is seriously one of the most underrated locations in all of Washington state. I can’t recommend it enough as a Washington elopement location, so below is an entire guide to how to elope at Mt. Baker! From getting permits, to choosing the right season, to picking the best location, get ready to find out everything you need to know to plan an amazing Mt. Baker elopement.

bride and groom mt. baker landscape

Where is Mt. Baker?

Let’s start by getting situated! Where even is Mt. Baker in Washington state?

The Mt. Baker Wilderness is a part of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest (who knew, right?), located in northwest Washington near the towns of Deming & Glacier. It’s the third-highest mountain in Washington, the fifth-highest in the Cascades, and is also often referred to by its native name, Kulshan.

The wilderness area encompasses a massive 117,000 acres of land, situated on the west side of the Cascades between the Canadian border & Mount Rainier!

Fun fact: Mt. Baker is one of the snowiest places on earth, currently holding the world record for the most snowfall in a single season!! So it makes total sense why SO many outdoor enthusiasts travel to Mt. Baker for winter activities like skiing & snowboarding.

bride and groom hiking on trail

How to Get to Mt. Baker

The nearest airport to Mt. Baker is Bellingham International Airport (BLI), about a 1.5-hour drive from Artist Point. You can also fly into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), which is around 3.5-4 hours from Artist Point depending on traffic.

Mt. Baker is located at the end of State Highway 542, so to get there, you’ll take I-5 from wherever you’re at. The Heather Meadows Base Area is at mile marker 55, and the White Salmon Base Area is at mile marker 52!

If you’re coming from Bellingham, take exit 255. From Seattle, take exit 236. And from Vancouver, take the 2nd exit for WA-542 E after driving on WA-547 S. You can find more directions on the Mt. Baker website!

bride and groom holding each other mt. baker background

Why Elope at Mt. Baker?

I could write sooo many reasons why you should elope at Mt. Baker, but here’s the main one: the INSANELY beautiful mountain views that Baker has to offer, even if you don’t want to hike multiple miles to access them.

There are trail options for people of all ages and mobility levels, including short, wheelchair-friendly trails to longer, more challenging backpacking adventures, and all the way in between – all of which will get you gorgeous mountain & alpine meadow views of some sort!

Here are a few ways to know if eloping at Mt. Baker is right for you:

  • You don’t mind driving up mountain roads for a while from wherever your lodging is
  • You love exploring different spots with a variety of mountain, meadow, & alpine lake views
  • You want to elope in the summer or very early fall
  • You want to elope in the fall or winter & are okay with fog, snow, and more required hiking
  • You want to have a private, intimate elopement without having to obtain a permit
  • You want to be able to bring your dog(s) along on your elopement day
  • You want the opportunity to witness not only incredible mountain views, but also views of vibrant alpine meadows, blue lakes, and lush hillsides
bride and groom in front of lake

Best Time of Year to Elope at Mt. Baker

Wondering what time of year you should have your Mt. Baker elopement? My top recommendation would be to elope at Mt. Baker between July-September!

Because Baker is obviously, uh, in the mountains, the snow lasts much longer up there & arrives much earlier than it does at lower elevations. This is the reason that the final 1.8-mile section of the highway up to Artist Point closes down for the winter, and doesn’t open again until typically late July, once the snow has melted enough. 

view from road near mt. baker

You CAN hike up this portion of road if you want to, but I’d definitely recommend eloping in the warmest part of the summer, or super early fall if you can. This will make it much easier to access the higher points, reduce your chance of trail closures due to snow, and hopefully will help you best avoid fog & rain!

Fall is a beautiful time to elope at Mt. Baker, but again, it’s risky because you never know when winter weather will hit. Mt. Baker also gets very foggy in the fall, especially in the morning, so you should be aware of potential fog that could obstruct the views of the mountains you were hoping to get!

bride and groom eloping near mt. baker

6 Best Locations to Elope in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Mt. Baker has SO many incredibly beautiful locations that I could suggest eloping at, but realistically, you can’t visit ‘em all. So I’ve narrowed it down to my top 6 favorite Mt. Baker elopement locations that I highly recommend considering for your elopement, from spots with panoramic mountain views to alpine lakes & more!

1. Artist Point

Artist Point is one of the most popular spots to visit at Mt. Baker, located at the end of the Mt. Baker Highway. It’s got some of the most phenomenal views in the area, looking over the Cascades with sweeping views of the valleys + more mountain peaks in the distance. I truly can’t recommend it enough, being that it’s so easy to get to (especially if you can drive the final 1.8 miles of road instead of having to hike it), and there are a variety of low-level, stunning trails to explore. 

bride and groom at artist point

2. Picture Lake

If you want to witness some of the best views of Mount Shuksan around, you’ve GOT to visit Picture Lake, whether it be for your vow exchange or simply for sunset photos in the evening. It’s an insanely picturesque lake in the middle of the forest, surrounded by wildflowers in the summer, and featuring incredible views of the peaks of Shuksan. It’s super easy to get to via a quick 0.6 mile round trip trail with less than 50 feet of elevation gain, and is even wheelchair-friendly!

bride and groom posing at picture lake mt. baker landscape

3. Skyline Divide

If you’re looking for a more challenging, lengthy adventure, check out the Skyline Divide trail! It’s a 7.2-mile, out & back hike with just under 2,500 feet of elevation gain. The trail difficulty is hard, so I’d recommend this trail to couples who are more experienced hikers or are prepared for a longer, harder trek to get to some incredible views!

bride and groom hiking along skyline divide

4. Bagley Lakes

For a shorter yet just as beautiful hike, check out the Bagley Lakes Loop! The loop is moderately-challenging, at 2.2 miles long total and with only an elevation gain of 260 feet. It’s a well-kept trail that takes you to two stunning alpine lakes, and tons of wildflowers if you take it in the summer. I highly recommend this trail to couples looking for gorgeous views without too hard or long of a hike required!

bride and groom on bridge near bagley lakes

5. Chain Lakes Loop

If you want a longer hike that isn’t quite as difficult as the Skyline Divide trail, definitely check out the Chain Lakes Loop. You can park either at the Artist Point trailhead or the Austin Pass picnic area for this one, and it’ll take you on a 7.1-mile loop through epic rock formations, alpine meadow scenery, and views of Mount Shuksan, Mount Herman, & Table Mountain! AllTrails recommends downloading the offline map for this one, as some of the trail directions can be hard to follow.

bride and groom above chain lakes loop

6. Winchester Mountain

Last but not least, the trail up to Winchester Mountain Lookout is an amazing 3.4-mile out & back trail with about 1,300 feet of elevation gain that takes you to stunning 360-degree mountain views. Youl’l need at least a high clearance vehicle to get to the trailhead for this one, and a 4WD car is even better, as the road is only one lane wide and isn’t the smoothest! The drive to the trail and the fairly steep (but only moderately-difficult) hike is well worth it for the phenomenal scenery.

view of winchester mountain lookout

What to Pack for Your Mt. Baker Elopement

Now because you’ll be eloping up in the mountains, you’ll want to make sure you pack everything you need in your backpack(s) – we don’t want to have to hike back down to the car if you forget something!

Here’s a list of some key items you won’t want to forget to bring to your Mt. Baker elopement, along with all of your elopement gear & typical hiking gear:

  • Headlamps
  • Flashlights
  • Plenty of layers
  • Raincoat
  • Umbrella
  • Bear spray
  • Bug spray
  • Warm gloves (especially during colder seasons, and at sunrise)
  • Hiking shoes (with good traction, especially during fall/winter)
  • Snowshoes in the winter
  • Toilet paper if you won’t be near a bathroom
  • Doggie bags if you bring your dog along

And never forget to bring water & snacks, no matter how long of a hike you’re doing or what the weather is like. Stay hydrated and remember to eat during your big day!

dress along trail

FAQ’s About Eloping at Mt. Baker

Before we dive into some legal mumbo-jumbo, I want to answer a few quick FAQ’s about eloping at Mt. Baker that couples often wonder, or that I commonly see searched online!

Is Mt. Baker part of the North Cascades?

Nope! Mt. Baker is often referred to as part of North Cascades National Park, but it’s actually NOT a part of the official park, despite being a part of the North Cascades mountain range. The Mt. Baker Wilderness borders the park on the east, and does share about 20 miles of border with the park. However, the wilderness area is part of its own thing – the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest!

Can you get married at Mt. Baker?

Absolutely you can, and I HIGHLY recommend it! I wouldn’t be writing this article if you couldn’t 😉 

Do you need a permit to get married at Mt. Baker?

The only time you’ll need to get a permit to get married at Mt. Baker is if you have a group of 75 or more people. Which, to be honest, isn’t really realistic to any sort of adventure elopement that takes place outdoors, anyway! National parks & wilderness areas are best fit for very small, intimate elopements with minimal equipment/setup.

Is the road to Artist Point always open?

Unfortunately, no – the final 1.8-mile stretch of the Mt. Baker Highway up to Artist Point closes down for the winter season due to snow. It typically closes down in the fall and opens back up in mid-July, but it varies year-to-year depending on the snowfall and winter conditions. Keep this in mind if you plan to elope in the fall or spring – you may have to hike that 1.8 miles of road to get to Artist Point if it ends up being closed off for the season. You can take a look at the Washington Department of Transportation website to check current conditions!

Are dogs allowed at Mt. Baker?

Heck yeah they are! Dogs are allowed in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest as long as they’re on a 6-foot leash at all times when you’re in a developed recreation area or on interpretive trails – otherwise, they have free rein for the most part! Some trails do require dogs to be leashed, and others don’t, so I’d say look into that more specifically once you’ve narrowed down some of the potential trails you’re going to take. Make sure you clean up after them, keep them well-behaved, and that you’re careful to respect the land you take them on!

Does Mt. Baker get foggy?

Ohhh you bet it does. Because it’s obviously pretty high up elevation-wise, Mt. Baker can get super foggy in the mornings, especially during fall, winter, & early spring, when it’s most rainy. I’d recommend preparing yourselves for a foggy morning (or day) if you elope during the colder seasons, and cross your fingers for clear skies to enjoy the views! Although there is something really freaking magical and unique about being up in the mountains in the fog – just be sure to drive extra carefully along the mountain highway!

view of mt baker couple on trail

Mt. Baker Elopement + Wedding Permit

Because Mt. Baker is a part of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, elopements & weddings will require a Special Use Permit – but only for groups of 75 people or more! This is great for any couples who are holding a private or intimate elopement with just their closest friends, because a permit likely won’t be necessary.

It’s important to note that Mt. Baker is NOT a part of North Cascades National Park, so you will not need to get a North Cascades National Park wedding permit.

For more info on permits in Washington’s national & state parks, head over to my blog post, How to Get Permits for Your Washington State Elopement!

couple viewing mt baker landscape

Mt. Baker Marriage License + Laws

In order to legally get married at Mt. Baker, you’ll need to follow Washington state marriage laws, and the appropriate procedures to get your Washington state marriage license! Getting married in Washington is great because you don’t have to be a state resident, and you can get your license in any county & then can use it anywhere in the state. This means you could get your license where you’re staying during your trip – say, in Seattle (King County), and then have your ceremony at Mt. Baker in Whatcom County, for example!

Here are some of the most important Washington marriage laws to keep in mind when you start the process of getting your marriage license:

Minimum age requirement: 18, or 17 with parental consent

State residency required? No

Waiting period: 3 days

License validity period: 60 days

Blood test required? No

Cost to get a WA marriage license: Varies by county

Witnesses required: At least 2 over the age of 12

To apply for your Washington marriage license, one or both of you need to visit a County Auditor’s office with valid government-issued photo ID. You can also complete the application online to make the process quicker, then visit a County Auditor’s office later to finalize your license!

couple in front of mt. baker landscape

Best Lodging Near Mt. Baker

I’ve already told you in manyyyy other blog posts that Washington is freaking FILLED with incredible places to stay. From picturesque A-frame cabins in the rainforest, to glamping yurts in the mountains, to luxury ski resorts, alllll the way to primitive campgrounds in national parks, there truly is something for everyone!

I’ve narrowed down some of the best places to stay near Mt. Baker, including Airbnb’s, campgrounds, and different hotels & resorts. I’d recommend staying in Deming or Glacier, since those are the two nearest towns to Mt. Baker!

Airbnb’s in Deming, WA & Glacier, WA

Campgrounds

Hotels & Resorts

couple with headlamps in front of mt. baker night

Meet Your Mt. Baker Elopement Photographer

Hey there, friend – I’m Katie! Your Mt. Baker elopement photographer who cannot freaking wait to show you all the beauty that Mt. Baker has to offer. I know the area like the back of my damn hand, being a Seattle-based elopement photographer, so you can trust that I’m ready to take you on the adventure of your lives through this glorious mountain wilderness!

You can learn more about me and my approach to elopement photography here, and take a look at my Mt. Baker elopement packages + pricing below. If you think we’d be a good fit for your elopement day, heck yes – I’d be so dang honored to capture your beautiful Mt. Baker elopement, and can’t wait for you to get in touch here!!

couple at lake kissing

Mt. Baker Elopement Packages + Pricing

Elopement Packages and Pricing for Mt. Baker

  • 4 hours – 2 days of elopement photography coverage anywhere in Washington
  • 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 peak images within 1 week
  • Photographer travel fees covered anywhere in Washington

Starting at $4,500

bride and groom on rock in view of mt. baker

More Washington Adventure Elopement Resources

Now that you know all there is to know about having a Mt. Baker elopement, check out some of my other elopement guides if you’re still considering other locations in Washington! I’ve got a guide for each of Washington’s three national parks, as well as a couple other statewide elopement guides. Read ‘em below and enjoy learning about some of the most beautiful places in the PNW!

National Park Elopement Guides

Olympic National Park Elopement Guide

North Cascades National Park Elopement Guide

Mount Rainier National Park Elopement Guide

Statewide Guides

The Complete Guide on How to Elope in Washington State in 2022

How to Get Permits for Your Washington State Elopement


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