Out of all the national parks I’ve visited, Glacier is without a doubt my favorite! The peaks and valleys carved by glacier runoff are absolutely breathtaking, and even just driving down the infamous Going-to-the-Sun Road is an experience everyone should have. If you’re planning an elopement, Glacier should definitely be on your list of possible locations – keep reading this Glacier National Park elopement guide to learn exactly how to make it happen!
Before you pick a date or get into the nitty gritty of elopement planning, here are a few things you should know about Glacier National Park!
The closest airport to Glacier National Park is located in Whitefish, which is a cute town to explore and is located only 30 minutes from Glacier’s west entrance! This airport is pretty small, so depending on where you’re flying in from, you may also want to check out the Missoula International Airport, which is bigger and has more flights coming in. Once you’re in Montana, you will need a car to get into the park – public transportation is limited, and renting a car is the best way to get around!
Because of its high elevation, Glacier gets a lot of snow in the winter! The snow typically starts in October, and most of the park is buried until June. If you’re up for a winter wonderland elopement, you can throw some thermal leggings under your dress and enjoy the snow! But, the best time for a Glacier National Park elopement is summer, when the snow melts, the roads are clear, and the weather is perfect for hiking!
The ideal weather conditions in the summer bring a lot of crowds to Glacier National Park. July and August are the busiest months of the year, and some days it can be difficult to find parking. If you elope in Glacier, consider a sunrise ceremony, to ensure that you’ll be able to get to your location, and that you’ll most likely have it all to yourself!
Glacier is a huge national park, and narrowing down a spot to elope can definitely be a challenge! Here are the different parts of Glacier, and some of my favorite elopement locations.
Lake McDonald Valley is the most popular area of Glacier – it’s lower in elevation than other parts of the park, so it becomes accessible earlier in the year. You can elope on the shore of Lake McDonald, or hike one of the nearby trails.
Logan Pass is one of the most beautiful places in Glacier! The mountains tower over fields of wildflowers, and mountain goat sightings are not at all rare. The iconic Hidden Lake Hike begins at Logan Pass, and takes you to an overlook where you’ll be greeted with breathtaking views. For more adventurous couples, you can backpack the Highline Trail and spend the night in a backcountry chalet!
This 50 mile stretch of road connects east and west Glacier, and around every curve there’s a new stunning view. Even if you just drive down this road on your elopement day, you won’t be disappointed! With tons of overlooks along the way, the incredible views from Going-to-the-Sun Road are a quintessential part of any visit to Glacier National Park.
The crystal clear waters of Two Medicine Lake make this area a popular attraction. Two Medicine Valley is the gateway to the park from the east side, and you can explore miles of trails, glaciers and mountains by foot, or take a boat ride across the still water.
Marriage licenses and permits may not be the most glamorous part of your elopement day, but it’s important to make sure that your marriage is legal and valid, and that you’re following state and park rules and regulations!
To get a marriage license, you’ll need to visit any country clerk’s office. The marriage license costs $53, and you can use it as soon as you pick it up! It is valid for 180 days, so you can do this in advance.
Montana requires an officiant to sign your marriage license – but you have a few different options for elopement officiants! You can hire someone who’s up for whatever adventure you have planned, or you can have a friend or family member marry you.
If you have someone in your life who you trust to officiate your ceremony, all they have to do is visit ULC.org, sign up, and then they can officiate marriages anywhere in the United States! It’s free and easy, and the only requirement is that they be over 18.
You will need two witnesses to sign your marriage license, but don’t panic if you weren’t planning to invite guests to your elopement! Your photographer or any other vendors can serve as witnesses, and you can even find two strangers at the trailhead or at your ceremony spot to sign for you. People are always stoked to help out!
To get married in Glacier National Park, you will need a permit. Even for small ceremonies, this is required, and the fines for not doing so can be hefty! To apply for a permit, you’ll need to fill out an application, which can be found here. There is also a $100 application fee, but this money goes to keeping the park clean and beautiful!
Finding somewhere to stay for your Glacier National Park elopement is just as important as where you elope! You can combine your elopement with your honeymoon and spend a week in Montana, and it’s so nice to have a home base to come back to after a day of adventures.
Whitefish is a popular place to stay, because it is so close to the park and because the town has tons of restaurants and local shops to explore. You can stay in a cute lodge like this one, or even in the park in one of the chalets.
When it comes to elopements, there is a lot to figure out! For most couples, this is the first time they’ve planned an elopement and it can be difficult to know where to start. But don’t stress – that’s what I’m here for! As a photographer specializing in elopements and small, intimate weddings, part of my job is guiding you through the planning process and making sure you have the best time, with no stress. From location recommendations, to getting the right permits, to building a timeline, I’ve got your back.
Ready to plan your Glacier National Park elopement? Reach out!