Hey friends! Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of elopements, weddings, and shoots at Diablo Lake overlook on social media, and a ton of folks advertising shoots or elopements there for the upcoming year. While we love the overlook area so much and it is really gorgeous spot that we’ve shot at in the past, that area has been closed by the park. While I’m a little sad about this decision, I get it, and preserving our parks always has to come first. Apparently, the area has been closed off for some time now, but folks keep breaking or ignoring barriers and signage to shoot there because of it’s popularity or because they didn’t know it was closed. Which, obviously, is not cool.
So! Because we love this area so much and we want people to experience it in a way that is productive & respectful & awesome, we put together this list of other amazing, beautiful, easy-to-get-to spots to elope in the North Cascades! If you’re a couple who was hoping for your north cascades elopement to be at Diablo Lake and you’re kinda panicking or if you’re a photographer who just wanted to shoot there, we wrote up this list of handy alternate locations. There’s no excuses for saying that you *have* to break the rules for the insta-worthy shot, because there are so many other stunning places in this park, and I wanted to highlight some of them! You ready to have your mind blown?
- Washington Pass Overlook If you’re looking for easy, drive-in, top-of-the-world epic views with so little effort it’s insane: THIS IS FOR YOU. This overlook is just off the main highway, like Diablo, and there’s gorgeous views of Liberty Bell Mountain and the rest of the North Cascades. The majority of the overlook is a small paved trail, but if you’re hoping for a bit more adventure, you can scramble out onto the tall rock slabs above the overlook for more privacy and better views. Because of the ridiculous 360 mountain views, the light here is amazing at both sunset and sunrise. A perfect spot for a North Cascades elopement, and one of my favorite spots in Washington for sure.
- Kayaking in Diablo Lake! Still have your heart set on the blue waters Diablo Lake & want the expansive, 360 degree views of the mountains nearby that the Diablo Lake Overlook has? You can kayak in to your elopement spot on Diablo Lake! That’s right, there are some amazing islands out in Diablo Lake (like the ones off of Thunder Point Campground) that are not only stupeifyingly gorgeous, but very private and pretty easy to get to. Not only that, but can you imagine how friggin romantic a post-ceremony sunset kayak with your new spouse on Diablo Lake would be??? I mean. COME. ON.
- Thunder Knob Trail For those who aren’t fans of kayaking, but love Diablo Lake, the Thunder Knob Trail is absolutely the best back-up option for this part of the park. On this several mile trail to an overlook, you’ll have way more privacy, will be respecting the NP rules, and can wander through lovely old growth forest on the way to breathtaking views of the mountains & lake! You can have your ceremony here and still enjoy those friggin epic blues of Diablo Lake below.
- Rainy Lake How this trail is not at the top of everyone’s bucket list, I will never know. It’s a devastatingly gorgeous little trail that branches off of the very popular Maple Pass route right after the parking lot. It’s a paved, incredibly easy-access trail that runs through old growth trees, across several very cute little streams and up to the most stunning alpine lake in the most unbelievable bowl of mountains. I know I just used a lot of positive descriptive words all in a row, but that’s because I’m in love with this lake, truly. We snowshoed here this past April and I legitimately cried because of how beautiful and peaceful it was. We were the only humans around and it was perfection.
- SLATE PEAK RADAR SITE Okay, sorry about the all caps. I’m just really excited about this one. I stumbled upon this while researching for another location on Google Earth and I have become obsessed. It is a dirt road winding deep into the mountains that dead-ends at an old radar site built by the military in the height of the Cold War. The radar site, which has been decommissioned, sits on the top of a flattened mountain peak which you can drive straight up to. The views from the road and from the top of the site are stunning, unobstructed, and unbelievable. You can pull off to the side of the road, hop on out and have a ceremony location for your North Cascades elopement with views so stunning you would otherwise have to hike in on the PCT to see. It’s this quiet, under-populated little marvel hidden on a overlooked forestry road! I love, love love this location and how quiet and majestic it is. Yes, an All Wheel Drive vehicle is probably recommended for this road, but that’s half the fun. Because of how deep into dark sky country it is, I imagine that the stars at night would be next-level beautiful.
Happy wandering friends! May you stay on the trail, don’t squish the flowers, and have your soul filled with wonder. <3