Written by the wonderful Sam Tatro of Undiscovered Path Home
Picture paradise…If you’re thinking of towering mountain peaks, out-of-reach alpine lakes, wildflower meadows, and clear blue skies, you have Montana on your mind. If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path, adventurous, and intentional elopement, eloping in Montana might just fulfill every single one of your wildest dreams. If you’re searching for a Montana elopement that feels more like one amazing adventure – a spectacular way to celebrate your love, your way – then read on for my full Montana elopement guide.
Places to elope in Montana
From Glacier National Park to the sprawling, crowd-free Kootenai National Forest, a Montana elopement offers something for everyone! That’s why I’ve put together a list with some of the best places to elope in Montana. But before you read any further, just know this: you may need to lace up those hiking boots, because so many of the most gorgeous elopement locations in Montana require some amount of hiking. But you know what that also means? Privacy! If you do plan on eloping in Montana, you’ll find some unbelievable privacy, one of the biggest luxuries on your wedding day.
Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is one of the most popular places – if not THE most popular place – in Montana, and for a good reason. Glacier National Park is known for its breathtaking snow-capped mountains, diverse wildlife, crystal clear waters and sprawling fields. With more than 700 miles of trails, this national park makes for THE most beautiful Montana elopement location and a lovely, serene spot for a romantic moment with just the two of you. Here are some of my favorite places to elope in Glacier National Park!
Logan Pass is the highest point on the Going-to-the-Sun road, a beautiful scenic road in Glacier National Park that you HAVE to drive at least once in your life! When you stop at Logan Pass, you won’t believe your eyes: cascading mountains in every direction frame the horizon with deep valleys in between. We can park in this area and find a romantic spot with stunning views. Logan Pass is a great option for couples that don’t necessarily want to hike for hours and hours, but still want a spectacular view.
Highline Trail might just be a backpacker’s paradise – it’s certainly one of my favorite spots! This 30+ mile trail runs through the mountains, offering unreal views, before it eventually stops in Canada. Along the way, we can pick THE spot for you and your partner to exchange your vows. Let’s lace up and go hiking!
Lake McDonald Valley
Lake McDonald is the largest lake in Glacier National Park. The blue water, paired with the surrounding mountain views, make it the perfect spot for couples looking to elope in Montana with a little bit of the mountains and a little bit of the water close by. This area is especially wonderful because there are a number of nearby trails for those looking for a little extra adventure. We can head to Avalanche Lake (6.7-mile trail) or the Apgar Amphitheater for two stunning options. At the end of the day, head over to Lake McDonald Lodge for some cozy charm and a nightcap. That’s a perfect way to spend the day for couples planning to elope in Montana!
Wild Goose Pullout
Don’t mind an early wake-up call? Wild Goose Pullout is perfect for you! This spot, located along the Going-to-the-Sun road, has been repeatedly named one of the most scenic and beautiful places in the world.
Gallatin National Forest
Have you always envisioned your Montana elopement in a more private place? A national park can be intimidating, but Montana honestly has so much to offer, each location more beautiful than the next. Gallatin National Forest is one of the beautiful hidden secrets. This national forest has some unreal mountain views, rushing rivers, epic lakes, and most importantly, all the privacy you could ever want. It’s really close to Big Sky, as well, a popular ski resort and another great place to elope.
Kootenai National Forest
Have I mentioned yet that Montana has some of the most insane scenery? If you elope in Montana, there’s about 0 chance you’ll be disappointed, especially with my location sleuthing skills. This national forest, on the border with Canada, also spread into Idaho. Kootenai has it all: valleys, plains, rolling hills, rivers, and sprawling mountains. Unlike other parts of Montana, Kootenai has a special climate that resembles the Pacific Northwest. Check out Leigh Lake and Rock Lake Trail for some spectacular beauty.
Lolo National Forest
Glacier National Park isn’t the only place in Montana worth seeing. Consider Lolo National Forest, a special place that’s home to more than 100 lakes, 5 different rivers, and hundreds of species of wildlife. This national forest is spread across 2 million acres of land, and it’s spectacular! You can stay near Missoula if you plan to elope in this area. Some of my favorite spots in the forest include Hub Lake and Hazel Lake, and, to the south, Blue Mountain Recreation Area (did someone say horseback riding after your elopement? Fun fact: I can shoot photos FROM HORSEBACK!). The big pro to eloping here? Far less people than most other spots, with the same amount of breathtaking beauty.
There are countless amazing, hidden locations in Montana – and Glacier National Park – for a private elopement, especially if you don’t mind waking up early. Let’s get in touch and find the best fit for you both!
What to do on your elopement day in Montana
The better question is: what ISN’T there to do on your elopement day in Montana? There’s so much to see and explore in Montana, you might feel as if you truly can’t see it all. Which is totally understandable. To help narrow down your epic elopement adventure, here are some of my favorite things to do in Montana:
- Explore Glacier National Park: Even if you plan to elope in Glacier National Park, you will need more than one day to explore this gem. Glacier National Park lies on one million acres of land, and it’s frequently called paradise on earth. It’s not hard to see why! The park has more than 700 miles of biking and hiking trails. Whether you plan to go hiking or drive the Going-to-the-Sun road, I’d really recommend taking the time to truly explore Glacier National Park.
- Visit Lake McDonald: Lake McDonald is one of the 130 amazing lakes in Glacier National Park. It’s honestly worth its own trip because the beauty is simply unparalleled, especially from the Great Continental Divide Trail.
- Go fly fishing: Do you love to fly fish? Montana is home to some of the best fly fishing waters in the U.S. I’d recommend connecting with a local guide to show you all the best spots.
- Drive the Beartooth Highway: Beartooth Highway runs southwest into Wyoming. This epic All-American drive is truly extraordinary, but it often falls under-the-radar as many road trippers opt for the Going-to-the-Sun road. This 68-mile road, though, offers truly spectacular views.
- Go horseback riding: If you love horseback riding, there’s no better place to do it than Montana. The open plains, wide-open skies and rolling hills make for the most peaceful, centering experience. You won’t forget this amazing experience.
Montana is all about getting outdoors and exploring the great U.S.A. There’s truly so much to see and so much to do in this wonderful state that you will probably discover you need more than a week or two to really see it all!
The best time to elope in Montana
The best time to elope in Montana is the summer, hands down. Between June and August, the weather will be sunny, warm, and pleasant. If you do want to avoid some crowds, you may alternatively think about visiting in the fall. October, for example, is a great time to visit for those seeking fewer crowds and cooler temperatures.
If you want a winter elopement, there are a couple amazing resorts in the area that make that totally possible. Ski season starts between December and March, and I’d recommend January or February for that perfect winter wonderland vibe!
Where to eat in Montana
Finding the perfect post-elopement meal is so important! Where you celebrate your elopement will all depend on your grand plan and your location. Here are some of my favorite places to sit down for a nice meal in Montana:
- Montana City Grill and Saloon
- Piccola Cucina Ox Pasture
- Olive B’s Big Sky Bistro
- Buffalo Block
- Abruzzo Italian Kitchen
- Montana Ale Works
- Five on Black
- MacKenzie River Pizza Co.
Where to drink in Montana
Is there anything better than sitting down for a nice glass of wine? Or sitting outside at a brewery and enjoying the view? Here are some of my favorite places to grab a drink in Montana.
- Plonk Wine
- Montana Ale Works
- Ten Spoon
- Mission Mountain Winery
- Glacier Sun Winery
- Bayern Brewing
- Blackfoot River Brewing Co
- Montana Brewing Company
Where to stay in Montana
Finding that special place to stay for your trip is SO important. There’s no greater luxury than taking some time out of your day to disconnect from the outside world and enjoy time with your partner. That’s why you want someplace special. Here are some of my beloved favorite accommodations in Montana:
- Sage Lodge
- Bighorn River Lodge
- Mountain Sky Guest Ranch
- Healing Waters Lodge
- Rainbow Ranch Lodge
- Grey Cliff Ranch
- Mountain Lake Lodge
- The Lodge at Whitefish
- Luxury log cabin with a hot tub and spectacular views
- Bird’s Eye View cabin with hot tub
- Waterfront cabin with hot tub and amazing view of the lake
- The stunning Elk Mountain Lodge with surreal views (and a hot tub of course!)
- The “Earthship,” a sustainable home near Big Sky
- Modern lakefront cabin with views to die for
- Meadowlark Treehouse (with TWO levels!)
- A modern tiny home
Vendors I recommend in the area
Hair and Makeup Artists
How to get to Montana
To reach Montana by plane, fly into Billings Logan International Airport (BIL), the largest airport in Montana. This hub offers several non-stop flights from different spots around the U.S. Depending on your starting point, you may also be able to fly into one of Montana’s smaller airports: Missoula (MSO), Helena (HLN), Great Falls (GTF), and Kalispell (FCA).
When you land in Montana, I’d recommend renting a car. There’s really no other way to get around and see everything off-the-beaten-path. Plus, it’ll make all those hours exploring all the more worthwhile!
How to legally elope in Montana
I’d personally recommend getting legally married in your home state to make it easier on you both and then have the symbolic ceremony in Montana.
But if you want to legally get married in Montana, we can make it happen. The marriage license fee is $53, and unlike other states, there’s no waiting period to get married. Each spouse will need to be present when you apply for the marriage license.
You will need to provide the following documents:
- A Rubella blood test (if you’re female)
- Government-issued picture ID
- Proof of age (this can be your government-issued ID)
We will need to contact the local county clerk and district court office in advance to figure out when the officials will be in the office.
My tips for exploring Montana
Are you planning an extended trip to Montana? The best way to see Montana is by renting a car. That way, you can plan to drive around from one beautiful area to the next. Renting a car allows you to uncover every amazing spot along the road!
If you are planning to spend a lot of time in Montana, I’d recommend planning time to fully explore Glacier National Park. This spectacular park is truly one of the most beautiful in the U.S. (if not THE most beautiful!) and it’s worth seeing as much of it as you can. But don’t forget to book some time in your schedule to explore the national forests, as well. There’s so much nature to see in Montana, your adventurous elopement trip will have no shortage of epic views.
If you’re looking for epic and adventurous elopement, Montana might just be the place for you. Eloping in Montana involves lacing up your hiking boots and maybe even getting a little dirty – but it will all be worth it for the absolutely unreal, intimate experience! As your Montana elopement photographer, I’m more than happy to get down and dirty if that’s your thing – I’m here to plan your most magical and unbelievable adventure! If you want to plan an unforgettable Montana elopement together, let’s get in touch and plan something truly magical.