Glacier National Park is known as the Crown of the Continent because of its glacier-carved peaks, pristine turquoise lakes, and lush forests. A Glacier National Park elopement will allow you and your partner to have an intimate and adventurous wedding experience! We want to make sure you have all the information you need to plan the perfect Glacier National Park elopement. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’d love to meet you both and help you navigate all of the logistics of planning your elopement!
First Things First: Permits
Does Glacier National Park require a wedding permit? Yes!
Almost every National Park requires a wedding permit. Navigating the permit process can be a little tricky, but we’re here to help! The first thing you will want to do is decide when you want to elope. We personally really love July-September, they are busier months for sure but we always always always recommend that couples opt for a weekday (Monday-Thursday) elopement. Choosing to elope during the week allows you for a more private and intimate wedding experience. We also recommend, if possible, couples opt for a sunrise or sunset elopement. This ensures a little more privacy, too!
What requires a permit?
Such a good question! According to the Glacier National Park’s website, “any and all vow exchanging, elopements, ceremonies, weddings, etc. require a Special Use Permit. Regardless of the size of the group, whether or not it is “officiated” or if papers are being signed. If any sort of vow exchange, elopement, or any other form of special event is taking place, a permit is required at all times. If you are entering the park with a photographer only to take photographs and there will not be any exchanging of vows of any sort, signing of documents, witnessing of a union, etc. then no permit would be required.”
Why do I need a permit?
Simply put, to keep it better than we found it. The National Park Service is required by law to protect and conserve all resources under their care. It is sometimes necessary to regulate or limit activities within the park to limit strain on park resources and maintain a positive experience for all visitors.
How do I get my permit?
All you have to do is download and print this permit application, fill out the application with as much detail as possible. You can mail the application along with the permit payment of $125 (check or mail order) to Glacier National Park, Attn: Special Park Uses, PO Box 128, West Glacier, MT 59936. You can choose to e-mail a digital copy of your permit application to email@example.com. If you are emailing your permit, you can pay by credit card. Make sure to include a note that you wish to pay by credit card and Glacier National Park will reach out to you when they are ready to process your permit.
According to Glacier National Park’s website, when filling out your permit application:
- Be sure to provide exact locations and times on your permit. Responses such as “various” or “Two Medicine” are not acceptable locations and “sunrise” or “afternoon” are not acceptable times. Be specific. If you want help picking a location, let us know! We are super familiar with Glacier National Park and provide customized location guides for all of our couples!
- Be sure to include contact information for your photographer if you are using one (pssst we’d love to document your elopement!)
- Under “Equipment” list anything that you might want to bring with you. Examples can include camera equipment, chairs, tables, musical instruments, speakers, etc.
- Remember to include all participants in your people and vehicle counts. This should include you, your fiancé, any officiants and photographers, and any and all guests.
Once they have received your application and payment, they will write a final permit and send it to you either in the mail or through an e-mail. You then need to sign and return a copy to them in either the self-addressed envelope they include with your permit or by replying to the e-mail. Your permit is not valid until they have received a signed copy back from you.
In addition to your special use permit, you will also have to purchase a day pass to enter the park. If you have a parks pass, you won’t need to purchase a day pass.
Where can I get married in the park?
Glacier National Park does not allow any decorations in the park, but we think the mountains make the most gorgeous backdrop! Here are some of our favorite places to elope in Glacier National Park!
- Big Bend
- Lake McDonald
- Many Glacier
- Two Medicine Lake
- Avalanche Lake
- Bowman Lake (pssst you can bring your dog here!)
- Sun Point
- Swiftcurrent Lake
- Grinnell Lake
Is there anywhere you can’t get married? Yes, Logan Pass. You can still go up Logan Pass to take pictures after your ceremony, but you cannot have your ceremony there. To get more ceremony location ideas, check out this site for more pictures and inspiration! The thing we love so much about Glacier National Park is that literally everywhere you turn is incredible. You cannot go wrong with any location! There is also something for everyone, from no hiking, short hikes, and long hikes with epic views.
Do I need an officiant?
Yes. The state of Montana requires you to have two witnesses and an officiant. Luckily, Bailee is ordained and can sign as your officiant, Jake can sign as one of your witnesses, and we can find another hiker to sign as your other witness if you truly want a “just the two of us” wedding experience. However, you can totally hire an officiant! If you’re including a handful of loved ones, one of them can totally marry you, too. All they have to do is become ordained which is super easy to do online!
Will my Glacier National Park elopement have any restrictions?
Glacier National Park does have some restrictions. Each ceremony site does have a guest count restriction that varies depending on the site. This can be anywhere from 10-30 people, depending on the site. Restrictions are in place to make sure that every visitor has an epic experience when they visit the park. They are also in place to protect delicate vegetation and wildlife. Ceremony permits are often written for 30 minutes and up to 1 hour. Other restrictions include:
- All participants associated with a Special Park Uses must comply with all park regulations including, but not limited to those regarding the storage and handling of food and disposal of trash
- Understanding and practicing all seven Leave No Trace Principles.
- Nothing may be spread, scattered, or released. This includes, but is not limited to: rice, birdseed, bubbles, flower petals (both real and fake), balloons, and butterflies.
- The area used for your ceremony is to be left in the same or better condition than as you found it.
Glacier National Park elopement 2022 Permit Update
A ton of people want to elope in Glacier National Park, and for good reason! Because of this, the permit processing office is experiencing a large backlog of permit requests. All applications submitted for dates in 2022 will not begin to be evaluated until the fall or winter of 2021. Although applications for 2022 will be delayed in processing, they can still be accepted up to one year in advance. Applications will be date stamped upon receipt for prioritized processing. You can submit your application up to one year in advance or 30 days prior to your elopement.
Keep in mind, if you submit your application within 30 days of your elopement, there is a possibility that you will not receive a permit and the application fee is non-refundable. I recommend calling the permit office to see if you could get a permit. However, there is a workaround for this. There are locations right outside of the park where you can have your ceremony and then we can head into the park after your ceremony for additional pictures. For more information, check out Glacier National Park’s wedding page or call 406-888-5960.
The Best Time to Elope in Glacier National Park
GNP is open year-round, but park conditions and accessible areas vary greatly by season. Most businesses and services are only open during Glacier’s summer season, which generally runs from late May through September. Even in May, there is still a lot of snow. Logan Pass usually closes on the third Monday in October and usually opens back up in June. This is all weather-dependent. It’s really important to note that even if you choose to elope in the summertime, it can still be cold due to altitude so it’s vital you come prepared with the proper attire.
Eloping in the Summer
Summertime in GNP is our absolute favorite time to be there! Summertime is considered mid-July through August. Blooming wildflowers, lush vegetation, and perfect hiking weather. Not to mention that Montana’s sunset is around 9 pm in the summer, so you can really soak in everything that Glacier has to offer! Summertime is perfect if you want to incorporate canoeing on Lake McDonald, hiking to Grinnell Glacier, and if you want full access to the entire park.
The summertime is the busiest season, so we HIGHLY recommend a sunrise or sunset elopement and eloping during the week. We can’t guarantee complete privacy, but choosing the previous options can definitely help! The bonus of eloping in the summer: huckleberry picking! We also love this boat tour company!
Eloping in the Fall
Glacier National Park is so beautiful in the fall. We love the perfect hiking temps and how the fall colors paint the mountains! The fall season is September-October and is generally less crowded. The fall colors usually start showing up in mid-September, so if you want to plan your Glacier National Park elopement around the turning colors, we recommend checking out this map to keep track of the changing leaf times.
Keep in mind that Going To The Sun Road closes the third Monday in October, weather dependent. Fun things to do in the fall: leaf peep (Highway 2, which runs along the southern boundary of the park, usually has the best larch viewing!), kayaking, and cozying up to a fire at the end of your elopement.
Eloping in the Winter
You might not think of Glacier National park as a place to elope in the winter, but think again! Winter in GNP is a literal winter wonderland. With services very limited in winter, you’ll need to plan ahead and be entirely self-sufficient. Most businesses and services in and near the park are closed from early October through late May.
That doesn’t mean you can’t access some pretty cool areas. You can snowshoe, cross-country ski, and Whitefish Resort for a day of skiing or boarding! Travel may be restricted so it’s wise to keep an eye on road conditions here.
Eloping in the Spring
Services are limited in the spring months, so you need to plan ahead and be self-sufficient. Most services in and near the park do not reopen for the season until late May or early June. You can expect quite a bit of snow to stick around even in June. Going To The Sun Road will be closed until mid-June, so there will be limited access to areas that are open. Springtime usually means way fewer crowds, so this could be a good option for complete privacy!
Be Bear Aware
Glacier National Park is home to tons of wildlife, including grizzly bears and black bears. It is absolutely vital that you carry bear spray on you at all times. Most wildlife, including bears, are very active all year, so it’s so important to remain alert and carry bear spray. You can get bear spray at any outdoor store. For more information, we highly recommend you read this article.
Glacier National Park really deserves several days to really take it all in. We recommend turning your Glacier National Park elopement into a weeklong wedding and honeymoon! There is so much to do all around Glacier!
- Under Canvas Glacier – the ultimate glamping experience! Feel like you are in your own secluded forest without compromising comfort and luxury.
- Clark Farm Silos – a truly Montana experience! Surrounded by epic mountain views, this silo is a truly unique Airbnb.
- Classic A-Frame – A sleek and updated mountain A-Frame. Tucked away on private property overlooking Whitefish Lake through the trees, only 10 mins from downtown, and 15 mins from the ski resort!
- HUT – A completely off-grid experience! A sleek and minimalistic design with 360-degree mountain views!
- Mum’s Flowers
- Rose Mountain Floral
Glacier National Park Elopement Timeline Example: Summertime Full Day Elopement
- 1:00 pm: Meet at Airbnb for getting ready coverage
- 2:00 pm: First look at Airbnb
- 2:30 pm: Leave Airbnb
- 3:00 pm: Arrive at Glacier National Park entrance
- 3:30 pm: Arrive at Avalanche Lake hiking trail
- 5:00 pm: Arrive at Avalanche Lake
- 5:00 pm-5:30pm: Ceremony
- 5:30 pm: Portraits at Avalanche Lake
- 6:30 pm: Head back to cars
- 8:00 pm: Arrive at cars
- 8:00 pm: Head to Big Bend
- 8:30 pm: Sunset pictures at Big Bend/champagne pop/celebrate
- 9:30 pm: Star pictures at Big Bend
- 10:00 pm: Photography and videography services end
Ready to Elope in Glacier National Park!?
We are SO excited for you both! We literally cannot think of a more gorgeous place to promise forever to each other. As an elopement photography and videography team, we absolutely love helping our couples with everything they need to have the most epic Glacier National Park elopement. You can bet we’ll be cheering you on throughout your entire wedding journey. Consider us your new adventure buddies! Heck yes, we’ll get stunning photos and video of your elopement, but we’ll also help you with location guides, timeline assistance, vendor recommendations, and so much more! Ahh does that sound right up your alley?! We thought so! Let’s start planning your Glacier National Park elopement!
Bailee + Jake
Psstt…check out our recent adventure elopements!