You’ve heard of Mt. Rainier, you’ve heard of Olympic National Park, and you’ve (maybe) heard of the North Cascades. . . but have you ever heard of Mt. Baker?! It’s by far THE most underrated of all the glorious mountains in the great Pacific Northwest, and deserves so much more recognition than it gets!! It’s usually not the first place you think of when you think of a Washington mountain elopement, but it def should be 😉 By the end of this Mt. Baker elopement & wedding guide, I guarantee you’ll have fallen head-over-heels (or head-over-hiking-boots?) for this spectacular destination!!
Mt. Baker is often confused as part of the North Cascades mountain range, but it’s actually not – it’s close by, but totally separate! It’s located on the west side of the Cascades, about 3 hours north of Seattle and 4.5 hours east of Spokane. Bellingham is one of the closest cities to Baker, but there are plenty of smaller towns closer to the mountains including Deming and Glacier. To get to Mt. Baker, you’ll make your way up the Mt. Baker Scenic Byway (Highway 542), passing some GORGEOUS views along the way, which already makes it so so worth the drive. Once you get there, though, your jaw will be on the floor immediately from the views that are even BETTER 😉 I love Baker because it has tons of locations that are super easy to access without a lengthy hike, and there really are trails for everybody!
Looking for more epic Washington elopement locations to consider for your special day? You won’t wanna miss my guide to Where to Elope in Washington State: The Top 22 Locations!
Mt. Baker is one of my fave elopement locations in WA for many reasons, but one of the biggest is that you can elope here at any time of year (if you’re down for snow and colder temps)!! And not only are you able to access different areas of Mt. Baker year-round – the scenery is literally breathtaking no matter when you go. In the summer, you’ll get sunny blue skies, wildflowers, and wide-open views of the mountains; in the spring, you’ll get lush green foliage, blooming wildflowers, and dreamy mountain views on clear days; in the fall, you’ll get jaw-dropping autumn colors; in the winter, you’ll get a magical winter wonderland.
So because you can make an elopement work at any time of year at Mt. Baker (depending on the location you choose), it’s totally up to you and what vibe you’re going for!! In general, I’d probably say that the best time to elope at Mt. Baker is late summer or early fall, between July & October. This is because during these months, you’ll get the best chance at sunny + clear weather and the lowest chance of rain, as well as the warmest temperatures for comfortable hiking & outdoor exploring.
Summer through early fall is also the best time to elope at Mt. Baker because that’s when the road to Artist Point is fully open. The last stretch of the Mt. Baker Highway is only open to Artist Point seasonally, and closes down once snow falls in autumn + stays closed until the snow melts, usually in the early summer months. Make sure you stay updated on current road conditions & closures here when your elopement gets closer!
If you’re down for snowy conditions, then Mt. Baker is an amazing winter elopement destination, which is awesome since most mountain locations in WA are nearly impossible to access in the winter! Once the last part of the road closes down due to snow, it’s about a 4-mile round trip hike from where you can park to Artist Point, and can be a great snowshoe hike.
Also keep in mind that if you head up to Baker earlier in the morning, it’s not unusual to find a bit of fog as the sun comes up (even in the summer). Sometimes it even lasts throughout the morning and early afternoon, whereas sometimes it’ll clear up within an hour of sunrise – it just depends on the weather that day! I know it can be disappointing at first to be met with a ton of fog and not have crystal-clear mountain views, but I’d encourage you to EMBRACE it as much as you can. Fog can be sooo magical and enchanting, and makes for some really epic photos!
The Mt. Baker area has sooo many epic locations, it’s honestly hard to choose where to go if you have limited time there!! So I narrowed it down to a few of my personal fave, easy-to-access locations to bring my couples to, as well as a couple other hiking trails that are super popular if you’re looking for a little more of an adventure. FYI – I also included how easy each spot is to get to!
Artist Point is one of the most spectacular places in the PNW and is famous for its incredible, easily-accessible views (especially accessible in the warmer months), gorgeous foliage, and amazing hikes. It’s THE place to go if you’re eloping at Mt. Baker. Because even in the winter when it’s a bit harder to access + requires a hike, it’s STILL phenomenal and so worth every step you have to take! You absolutely CANNOT visit Mt. Baker without hitting up Artist Point & exploring the area around it; you’ll get 10/10 views of Baker AND Shuksan, as well as wildflower meadows, trees everywhere you look, and the most amazing sunrises + sunsets. The alpenglow over the mountains is just *chef’s kiss* if you get lucky enough to witness it🤌🏼
Take a peek at Macy & West’s Artist Point Elopement for more dreamy af Artist Point inspo!
The Fire and Ice Trail is one of the many trails that starts at Heather Meadows, and it’s super duper short + easy! You’ll walk just a half-mile round trip along an interpretive trail and get gorgeous scenery and wildflower-filled alpine meadows if the season is right. It’s one of the first trails that opens up after the winter season since it’s at a lower elevation, so it’s the perfect trail to explore for a spring or fall elopement with guests who don’t want to have to hike!
Heather Meadows is the next best option if you can’t access Artist Point by road & aren’t up for the hike, and it makes a great addition to your day if you have time to explore BOTH this area and Artist Point! It’s easy as hell to get to, with hiking trails, picnic tables, and spectacular views galore, plus a ton of vibrant wildflowers in the summertime. The Austin Pass Picnic Area is a little picnic area located in Heather Meadows, and is the perfect place to relax for a little bit & drink some water, eat a snack, or cut your cake!
I quite literally will NEVER get over the views you get from Picture Lake, which you can access via a quick, flat hike that’s great for people of all ages/mobility levels, as it’s wheelchair-friendly. The lake reflects the most picturesque views of Mt. Shuksan (hence the name) and is close to a lot of other gorgeous areas to explore, making it an amazing place to stop during your elopement! To get to Picture Lake, all you have to do is take a 0.4-mile boardwalk loop from Heather Meadows, and there’s barely any elevation gain at all. And did I mention that the fall colors at Picture Lake are out of this freaking world?!
If you’re down for a *little* bit more of a walk (only 2 miles round trip, don’t worry!!), then you’ve got to check out Bagley Lakes! It’s typically less crowded than the trails up at Artist Point, which makes it a great option for elopement ceremonies or portraits if you don’t want to be around as many other hikers. You’ll walk from Heather Meadows and arrive at two stunning alpine lakes, surrounded by greenery and wildflowers, and you’ll even get great views of Table Mountain along certain parts of the trail. Another incredible trail if you want to witness Mt. Baker’s glorious fall foliage!🙌
Now if you’re looking for an actual hike that’s longer than a couple of easy miles & boasts pretty epic views of Baker, Shuksan, and the North Cascades, look no further than Chain Lakes Loop! This 6.5-mile round trip loop takes you through endless trees, bushes, and wildflowers, and can be completed via multiple different routes. Whether you take the trail clockwise or counter-clockwise, you’ll be rewarded with phenomenal views of some of Washington’s most beautiful mountains and it’ll be worth every step & drop of sweat!
I wanted to throw this one in for all you adventurous couples before we move on: Skyline Divide is a 9-mile round trip hike along, well, The Skyline Divide, which is a ridgeline extension of Mt. Baker. It’s an absolute PARADISE for mountain-lovers, with unrivaled views of the surrounding mountain ranges, wildflower fields galore, and breathtaking sunsets. It’s the most challenging & lengthy of all of these hikes and will def have you working up a sweat, so it might be a great option if you stay an extra day in the area and want to make a longer trek after having your actual elopement at a closer, easier-to-access location such as Artist Point!
Check out some more of my favorite mountain spots in my guide to the Best Mountain Photoshoot Locations!
Mkay now let’s talk about the legal shit! It’s SO important that you follow all the rules when you’re eloping anywhere, and especially on well-preserved public land like this – I know it can be easy to just ignore the rules one time and think everything will be okay, but unfortunately, that’s how our beautiful parks get damaged😩And if too many couples get married in a national/state park without a permit, or too many photographers shoot there without the proper permit, it can make it wayyy harder for future visitors to access the beautiful places we all want to see.
SO: how do you legally get married at Mt. Baker?! Here’s all the info you need to know about permits, parking fees, and Washington marriage licenses!
Fortunately, you ONLY need to get a Special Use Permit in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest if you have a group of 75 people or more! So generally, if you’re having an elopement or even an intimate wedding, you’ll be good to go without one🙌 If you do have a group of 75 or more people, you can find more info on how to apply for the proper permit here!
In addition to following Mt. Baker-specific fees and regulations, you’ll need to get a Washington state marriage license, of course!
To get married in Washington state, you need to:
And fear not, non-Washington-residents – you don’t have to be a resident in order to get married here!
One other great thing about marriage licenses in WA is that you do NOT have to get married in the same county where you obtain your license – so you can get your license at any auditor’s office in the state, and then get married anywhere in the state! Mt. Baker is located in Whatcom County, WA, so to make it easy, you can get your license through the Whatcom County auditor’s office. It costs $62 to apply for a Whatcom County marriage license, and there may be additional fees if you want extra certified copies of your marriage certificate.
Finally, in order to park in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and at certain trailheads, you’ll need a Northwest Forest Pass. You can get a Day Pass for $5, or an annual pass for $30 (which I recommend, because the pass will be good for 1 year at any Forest Service operated sites in both Washington AND Oregon!).
I am a biiiig fan of booking a cute & cozy af Airbnb for your elopement; that way, you have an amazing place to stay together during this special time – it will basically double as a nice vacay! Luckily, western WA has a tonnn of epic places to stay that’ll make you feel like you’re living in a magical woodsy escape straight out of a fairytale🌲 And you could even have your vow exchange/ceremony or evening celebration at your Airbnb, if you book a place that’s big enough to host some of your guests! An enchanting garden party reception beneath the trees with some of your closest loved ones after you tie the knot in the middle of the mountains? Yes pleaseee✨
Here are just SOME of the best Airbnbs & cabins near Mt. Baker for your elopement:
A breathtaking Scandinavian-inspired cabin with panoramic views of Baker, a cedar hot tub, and absolutely gorgeous design😍
A pet-friendly home with an outdoor entertainment area, BBQ, & hot tub – need I say more?!
A secluded cabin in the woods with a lil’ bit of rustic charm & a whole lotta romance💕
A dog-friendly cabin nestled in the forest just 30 minutes from Mt. Baker Ski Area.
A cozy cabin in the trees with room for a few of your guests, a relaxing hot tub out on the deck, and access to tons of fun outdoor activities.
Not only does this warm, welcoming cabin have a relaxing hot tub – it also has a sauna!!
A one-of-a-kind circular home with stunning architecture, luxurious amenities, and a lovely forest location.
As far as what to wear for your Mt. Baker elopement (and all mountain elopements, in general), I recommend prioritizing comfort over everything else!! Since you’ll be out in the middle of nature, you should probably expect to be walking across rocks, over tree roots, or through mud at some point during the adventure – and the last thing you want is to be trying to maneuver your way around (safely) in a super tight, restricting outfit, right??
You should also be completely prepared for your outfit to get dirty!!😅As much as you might attempt to keep your shoes pristine or the bottom of your dress from touching the ground, honestly, dirt is just inevitable if you’re out exploring in the mountains. Pick outfits that you can easily wash after the big day (or take to a dry cleaner), especially if you want to keep them to wear again or re-sell to someone else once you’re done with ‘em!
And MAKE SURE you wear comfortable, practical shoes!! You can absolutelyyyy bring your cute heels or stylish, bejeweled flats to change into once you arrive at your ceremony location, but if you’ll be doing any walking or hiking beforehand, you definitely want to wear shoes that are appropriate for the terrain. This will make sure that both you and your cute shoes stay safe!
Some final outfit tips taking the weather into account:
If you elope at Mt. Baker in the summer – Opt for outfits made up of lightweight materials that won’t have you sweating excessively, especially if it’s supposed to be pretty hot and you’ll be hiking/walking in your attire. I would avoid anything that has toooo many layers, or that would be difficult to change into once you arrive at your ceremony location (if you’re hiking to it)!
If you elope at Mt. Baker in the fall/winter/spring – Once those temps drop, it’s all about layers, baby!! Especially if you’re heading up into the mountains early in the morning or staying late into the night, you’d be shocked at how cold it can get even if it’s nice and warm during the daytime. Pick outfits with layers that’ll keep you warm, and that you can easily layer pieces on top of, such as denim jackets, fur jackets, shauls, etc. You can totally be fashionable with your outer layers and keep them on for photos, or you can go practical with your weather-resistant gear and set it off to the side during pics (unless you want to look like a total badass mountain explorer in your wedding attire; in which case, respect!). It might also be smart to have some snow gear in your car EVEN if it’s early fall or late spring – you never know when there will be snow up at those higher elevations that you have to trek through.
If you’ll be shopping for a wedding dress in the area, I’ve got some fabulous reccs to give you of different bridal shops in Seattle & Bellingham, which are two of the closest cities! All of these shops offer a wide range of stunning gowns for all personalities, bodies, styles, & tastes – I have no doubt you’ll find one that fits the vibe of your mountain elopement 🙂
Want to find out more about these gorgeous bridal shops, and see a few more online options? I’ve got a full blog post featuring Seattle Wedding Dress Shops I Love!
If dresses aren’t quite your vibe, no prob!! There are PLENTY of tux rental shops near Mt. Baker, too, as well as some wedding dress shops that also offer suits & tuxes.
For more info about each of these shops + additional online shops, check out my blog post, Seattle Tux Rental Options for Your Wedding!
Let’s wrap this thing up with a few final quick tips for your Mt. Baker elopement!! I have photographed SO many couples at this amazing destination, so trust me when I say I’ve seen it all + am ready for anything when your big day comes.
That’s meee!! I’m Claudia, a Seattle-based Mt. Baker elopement photographer who is freaking obsessed with documenting epic love stories at locations that are equally as epic. I’ve photographed more couples at Mt. Baker & the rest of Washington’s majestic mountains than I can count, and I will NEVER get tired of doing it! Sooo obviously I’d love to tag along on your magical Mt. Baker elopement & mountain adventure to capture it all 😉 If you’re ready to talk numbers, take a look at my Mt. Baker elopement packages & pricing – and then fill out my contact form here so we can get connected! I can’t wait to hear your story!
For more PNW elopement & wedding resources and real-life inspo, be sure to check out my blog – or just browse through some of my personal favorites below!