The Ultimate Guide on How to Elope in Glacier National Park

March 23, 2024
The Ultimate Guide on How to Elope in Glacier National Park

Nestled in the rugged terrain of Montana’s Rocky Mountains lies a treasure trove of natural beauty: Glacier National Park. With its towering peaks, pristine alpine lakes, and sprawling meadows, Glacier offers an unparalleled backdrop for couples seeking an intimate and unforgettable elopement experience. In this comprehensive guide prepared with destination wedding and elopement photographer, Kylie Farmer, we’ll explore all the details needed to plan your dream elopement amidst the splendor of Glacier National Park. From choosing the perfect location to obtaining permits and crafting meaningful vows, let’s embark on a journey to create memories that will last a lifetime against the breathtaking vistas of this iconic wilderness.

For a step-by-step guide on How to Elope in a National Park, download this FREE RESOURCE from our National V6 print issue.

 

Best Time to Say I Do in Glacier National Park

Choosing the perfect moment to exchange vows amidst the stunning landscapes of Glacier National Park can significantly enhance the magic of your elopement. For couples seeking the picturesque backdrop of pink flowers at iconic locations like Big Bend, mid-August to mid-September typically offers the ideal bloom time. While the exact timing of nature’s spectacle can vary based on winter severity, this window often showcases the park’s floral beauty in full bloom. Alternatively, those captivated by the allure of autumn hues and moody atmospheres may find late September through mid-October enchanting. It’s worth noting that the Going-to-the-Sun Road closes around October 14th annually, barring early closures due to snow. Thus, timing your elopement within these periods can ensure you capture Glacier National Park’s breathtaking vistas at their most captivating moments.

Top Ceremony Locations in the Park

Glacier National Park boasts an array of enchanting locations for couples to exchange vows amidst nature’s grandeur. As the park is divided into distinct sections—West Glacier, East Glacier, North Fork, and the Two Medicine District—each area offers its own unique charm for intimate ceremonies. When selecting your ceremony location, consider your guest count and preferences. Here are some top choices based on my experience:

Each of these locations offers breathtaking views and serene surroundings, providing the perfect backdrop for your special day amidst the splendor of Glacier National Park. Additionally, be sure to consult the online chart detailing locations, closure periods, guest capacities, and more to ensure your chosen spot aligns with your ceremony vision.

 

What’s Needed to Elope/Wed in the National Park

To ensure a seamless elopement experience in Glacier National Park, there are certain logistical requirements to fulfill:

Special Use Permit: Obtain a special use permit from the National Park Service, which costs $125. This permit grants permission for your ceremony within the park.

Marriage License: Secure a marriage license from the Flathead County Clerk’s office. The process for obtaining a marriage license is straightforward and can be initiated online.

Before planning your elopement, familiarize yourself with the permit rules and regulations set by the National Park Service (NPS). Here are some key guidelines to keep in mind from the NPS:

  • Limit of two permits per location per day
  • Time limit of two hours for all locations
  • Your permit does not grant access during road closures
  • A permit monitor may be required for events over 20 people
  • At all picnic areas, tables remain first-come, first-served, and tables may not be saved/reserved or moved.

 

Venues Nearby

While Glacier National Park offers breathtaking natural settings for your elopement, nearby wedding venues can provide additional options for celebrations.

Check out the following venues:

Clydesdale Outpost: Clydesdale Outpost is private guest ranch located in Whitefish. This one-of-a-kind property offers an experience unlike anywhere including stunning cabins, cedar hot tubs, and Clydesdale horses.

The Lodge at Whitefish LakeThe Lodge at Whitefish Lake is a luxury Four Diamond resort featuring heated pools, a stunning lakefront, luxury accommodations and more.

Mountainside WeddingsMountainside Weddings is an all-inclusive rustic wedding venue tucked in the trees just North of Whitefish. The property offers a stunning barn-like building perfect for indoor celebrations.

Rugged Horizon: Rugged Horizon offers spectacular views of the Mission Mountains. If you’re hosting intimate vows inside of Glacier National Park, The Barn at Rugged Horizon is a great place to host a large wedding celebration with 3,000 square feet of gathering space, a kitchen, men’s and women’s restrooms, ample gardens and meadows, and breathtaking vistas.

For more Montana wedding venues nearby, check out “31 Glacier and Whitefish Montana Wedding Venues

 

Where to Stay Nearby

For accommodations near Glacier National Park, consider these convenient options:

The Lodge at Whitefish Lake: If you want luxury after your adventure, The Lodge at Whitefish Lake is exactly where you need to be. It’s Montana’s only Four Diamond resort, so you know it has everything you need to unwind, feel pampered and enjoy the start of your forever with your new spouse!

The Green O: We love the idea of booking a few days to enjoy after your Glacier National Park elopement at the Green O for a romantic and secluded getaway. Don’t worry the amenities are top notch!

Après Whitefish: This boutique hotel is made for the adventurous at heart, so obviously everyone planning an elopement in a National Park. Trust us, when we say you won’t regret celebrating your elopement at Après Whitefish. Check it out for yourself here!

Historic Homestead:

Under Canvas Glacier: In the mood for more adventure? Book a stay at Under Canvas Glacier an upscale, outdoor glamping experience.

Vintage Log Cabin:

Meadowlark Treehouse: This private treehouse is perfect for a romantic getaway. Or, it would be darling for some intimate getting ready photos before you head out on your adventure!

Many Glacier Hotel:

The Nooq: We’re obsessed with this chic and sophisticated retreat on the slopes of Whitefish Mountain Resort. The aesthetic is enough for us to hit the BOOK NOW button!

A few more accommodations to check out include: Luxe 1906 Barn | Historic Homestead | Vintage Lodge Cabin | The Firebrand Hotel | Many Glacier Hotel

 

Attractions and Adventures Nearby

Enhance your elopement experience with some of Kylie’s favorite adventures and activities:

Kayak on Lake McDonald by renting kayaks at Glacier Outfitters

Rent a motorboat at Apgar Village and boat down Lake McDonald to the Lake McDonald Lodge for brunch

Explore scenic hiking trails such as Highline Trail, Avalanche Lake Trail, and Lake Josephine Trail

Embark on a Red Bus Tour that traverses the park

Enjoy breathtaking views from the ski lift at the Lodge at Whitefish Lake

Experience the thrill of rafting with rentals available in West Glacier

For more tips, suggestions and information about Glacier National Park and everything it has to offer visit the National Park Service website.

Check out more things to do near Glacier National Park here:

 

Restaurants Nearby

Good eats are a necessity for any celebration. Whether you’re looking for a restaurant to host a rehearsal dinner at, post elopement dinner or just grab quick nibbles at for your trek, we’ve got you covered with some of our favorites below

Graze Montana: Graze Montana creates artfully crafted charcuterie boards and grazing tables. Pack one to go for your elopement or have them set up a beautiful spread at the AirBnb you’re staying at to celebrate after the fact.

The Chef Guys: Hire The Chef Guys if you’re looking for something unique and intimate. These professional chefs create a custom menu from scratch in the comfort of your vacation home. Might we recommend booking The Nooq above for an elevated elopement celebration experience!

Bonjour Bakery & Bistro: If you want a special cake for your Glacier elopement, Bonjour Bakery & Bistro can take care of you. Otherwise, we recommend grabbing pastries and coffee to go for your morning in the park.

Summit Mountain Lodge: Plan a private event at The Steakhouse or grab something to go for your day’s adventures.

Bonfire: Montana Bonfire’s farm-to-table menu is designed to encourage sharing stories of the day’s adventures; perfect for reminiscing your magical Glacier elopement!

Backslope Brewing: If you hiked during your elopement, then you’ll want to pop in to Backslope Brewing for a tasty beer.

You can also check out: Finley Point Grill | Flathead Lake Lodge | Mountain Lake Lodge | Casey’s | Eddie’s Cafe

What to Pack and/or Bring if Eloping

Ensure you’re prepared for your elopement adventure with essential item suggestions from Kylie:

  • Bear spray for wildlife encounters
  • Vow books to capture your heartfelt promises
  • Warm clothing, blankets, boots, and hot hands for chilly mornings
  • Bouquet
  • Headlamps for nighttime hiking
  • Portable steamer for wedding attire
  • Marriage license for legal documentation

Items to consider: first aid kit, hair and makeup touch up kit and any accessories or props you want photographed during the elopement

Don’t forget snacks and plenty of water! A bottle of champagne to pop is never a bad idea 😉

Download this FREE PDF for Elopement Essentials

 

 

More Tips and Advice from Kylie Farmer

Make the most of your elopement experience with these helpful tips:

  • Book vendors early to secure availability
  • Embrace the unpredictability of mountain weather and have backup plans in place
  • Consider a sunrise elopement for a magical start to your day
  • Incorporate unique details into your celebration to make it truly memorable
  • Remember that a special use permit is required for ceremonies in the park, but not for photography sessions

For more Glacier National Park inspiration, area tips and recommendations, check out our latest planning guide below. Or, flip through the pages of the Rocky Mountain Bride Glacier Guide Vol. 1 here.

 

Discover more Glacier National Park inspiration on Kylie Farmer’s blog,
along with her Guide to Eloping in Glacier National Park:

Intimate Fall Wedding in Glacier National Park | Lily and Joe

Eloping in Glacier National Park | Jenna and Tyler

Glacier National Park Sunrise Photo Session | Casey and Cole

Faith + Ron | Glacier National Park Elopement

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