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How to Elope in Glacier National Park

Logan Pass GNP

If you decided to get married here, yay! I’m so excited for you!!


This blog post is meant to be a guide for you on ALL things Glacier and eloping there! As your photographers we want to help make your elopement day as stress free and enjoyable as possible. We will help you plan your day, guide you on an epic adventure, and document each moment in a timeless way. We love Glacier, and we want you to love it as much as we do. Here is some important info to help you start planning an adventure of a lifetime in this amazing park!

Included below you will find 5 tips on how to elope in Glacier National Park

1). You Need a permit.

This is non-negotiable and helps the park to have locations not bombarded with photographers and elopements. The permit is required for any couple wanting images done in Glacier. According to the National Park Services website, 

“Any and all vow exchanging, elopements, ceremonies, weddings, etc. require a Special Use Permit. This is 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. Please remember that “mock” ceremonies for the sake of photography are considered ceremonies under Special Use Permitting regulations and must also obtain a permit.”

NPS

Additionally, Glacier National Park has specific Wedding Locations where Special Use Permits will be issued. Those are included in the document attached .

The special use permit can be accessed here . This costs $125 and must be completed at minimum of 30 days before the wedding (I recommend at minimum 3 months just to be safe!) You can email them a copy of your permit at or snail mail to Glacier National Park, Attn: Special Park Uses, PO Box 128, West Glacier, MT 59936. The park office number is 406-888-7832 but they state to not call about the status of the permit because it backs them up. Once the permit is approved they will mail it back to you and you must sign it and send a copy back to them. 

going to the sun road

I recommend reaching out to your photographer first prior to submitting this Special Use Permit so that we can figure out if we are available, what location would be best, what equipment we will need to bring, the amount of people and vehicles needed. 

Each site has a limit on number of people, vehicles, and equipment that can be used. That info is included on the Wedding Location in Glacier National Park document. The limits are intended to preserve and protect the plants, wildlife, and scenery that can be destroyed by large groups of people. This also is to protect the other visitors at the park that day. Permits are typically written for 2 hours. This is to ensure there are not 10 other elopements occurring at the same time and place. The park states that 2 hours is to include getting to the location, performing the ceremony, and vacating everyone afterwards. 

Note: no special use permits are written for Logan Pass. This is also closed to all off-trail travel to keep the precious alpine plants preserved. These little guys take decades to grow so we want to make sure they are still there when we leave. 

No Special Use Permits are allowed at Logan Pass, however, you may wish to take some portraits there before or after your elopement. This is allowed as long as you stay on the trail. In addition to the day pass there is also a $2 non-refundable fee per vehicle to access “Going to the Sun Road.” These passes can be purchased prior to arrival or the day-of depending on volume levels. Additional information can be found here.

To ensure fair access, two-thirds of the Going to the Sun Road (GTSR) entry reservation tickets will be released 60 days before your event date. The other one-third will be released 48 hours prior to the date and potentially available the day of (if they are not sold out).

Click here to purchase your GTSR ticket and park pass. The GTSR ticket is available May-September. 2022 dates are still pending per the amount of snow Glacier gets and how quickly it melts. The park pass and GTSR tickets are good for 1 vehicle and last 7 days. You will need a digital or printed copy of both to enter.

2). Scheduling

Unfortunately there is not an availability calendar for public use on the GNP website. They state that they will work with you to figure out a spot that has availability for your elopement. We recommend weekdays Monday-Thursday because typically it is a little less crowded than during the weekends.

Since the park does not require a permit for taking pictures with a professional photographer the “portrait time” does not need to be included in the 2 hour time frame. You can take as much time as you want before or after the elopement to take images through out the park . Obviously the rules for all visitors still apply, including:

“respecting area closures and closures to off-trail travel; rules regarding pets; rules against the collecting, trampling, or disturbing of plants; rules about approaching, feeding or in any way harassing wildlife; and the prohibition of scattering, spraying or releasing any items such as champagne, rice, birdseed, balloons, flower petals, bubbles, etc.”

NPS

In addition to the Special Use Permit needed to elope, you will also need a park pass to enter the park. You can request a permit up to a year in advance but must give a minimum of 20 business days for approval. The Special Use Permit means that no other weddings will be occurring at your spot however, this does not mean there will be no visitors. 

With the 2 hour permit restriction, we would recommend that if you want an intimate ceremony (i.e. some family members there), that you either do portraits with your photographer at sunrise or sunset. We recommend sunrise because typically no one is there. To get to Logan Pass from Kalispell takes over 2 hours so not many people should be where your portraits are being done. This way, your ceremony can take place during the allotted time and you can spend time with your family afterwards.

3). Marriage License

If you are new to the whole “getting married out of state thing” here’s a pro-tip. Book your plane tickets with enough time to get your marriage license. If you are eloping in Glacier, you’ll need to get your marriage license in Kalispell at the County Clerk of Court’s office. Their hours are 8am-4:30pm Monday-Friday. More information can be found here. It costs $53 for a license and $7 per copy. P.S. Don’t forget a valid form of ID. You can save time by filling out the application here.

4). LNT

We will be continuing to follow the Leave No Trace Principles as a guide not a rigid system. We acknowledge that we are not perfect and that’s why grace is needed! Trust us we will do what it takes to make sure your wedding pictures are incredible while still preserving this gorgeous land! The principles include:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces
  3. Dispose of waste properly
  4. Leave what you find
  5. Minimize campfire impacts
  6. Respect wildlife
  7. Be considerate of other visitors

More info on LNT can be found here as well as additional guidelines.

Please note: Glacier National Park is part of the Rockies which means there is a dense population of grizzly bears. These guys are powerful and are very wild top predators. This is their home, and while we always have bear spray, it is important to give them plenty of space.

5). Extra Info

Glacier national park does allow pets but they are restricted to developed areas such as amphitheaters, campgrounds, and picnic areas. “Paws on pavement” they must always be kept on a leash, not allowed in buildings, in the backcountry, on trials, or on lakeshores/waterways. Pets are never allowed to chase wildlife or visitors. ADA certified animals are allowed but the park does not qualify emotional support/comfort/therapy animals as service animals. 

Well we hope this blog post inspires you and helps you understand a little bit more about how to elope in Glacier National Park!

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