Wildfire at Artist Point during elopement

Eloping in the Mountains During Wildfire Season

Summertime in the PNW comes with wildflowers and warm weather, but it can also come with fires. Here’s how to navigate eloping in the mountains during wildfire season.

If you have ever visited the Pacific Northwest in the summer months, you will know there is nothing quite like it. From long hours of sunlight to endless blue skies and bright sunny days, for many couples, summer is the perfect time to say, “I do.”

Despite the dream of an idyllic Northwest summer, wildfires often go hand in hand with the warmer weather in the PNW. But with a bit of preparation and the right guidance, eloping in the mountains during wildfire season can be done safely, respectfully, and surrounded by the profound beauty of nature.

Eloping with Outshined Photography during wildfire season

Wildfires at a Glance: Understanding Wildfires in the PNW

No matter where you live, chances are you have noticed a change in weather patterns each year. Summers around the country are getting hotter, winters are more intense, and the snowpack around the world is decreasing. With climate change at the forefront of our changing weather patterns, wildfires are becoming a normal part of Pacific Northwest summers. Fortunately, there are resources available to help ensure those looking to experience the outdoors can do so safely during wildfire season.

The Role of Your Elopement Planner

When it comes to eloping in the mountains during wildfire season, the Air Quality Index (AQI) is the most important thing to monitor. Smoke can come from Canada or neighboring states, which impacts the PNW air quality. More often than not, it is the smoke that will disrupt your elopement plans more than the actual fire.  As your elopement planner, it is my job to keep track of the AQI and ensure we have a Plan B, just in case the conditions suggest a need for a change. More often than not, these checks are made out of an abundance of caution, and couples say their “I do’s” exactly as planned.

Safety First Technology

Because the PNW has a lot of densely packed forested areas, if a wildfire starts, it is usually left to burn naturally.  As long as smoke levels aren’t too high, couples eloping in the mountains during wildfire season can safely do so, even if the area near their location is experiencing a fire.  Apps like Firesource allow couples and elopement planners alike to track wildfires, smoke levels, and the AQI. This real-time data ensures your elopement is safe, monitored, and as magical as you imagined.

Eloping in North Cascades National Park during wildfire season

The Location of Wildfires in the PNW: Eloping in the Mountains During Wildfire Season

Some of the most beautiful places on our planet are subject to natural disasters like wildfires, and the Pacific Northwest is no different. Perhaps that is the beauty of nature as a whole: it is powerful, temporary, wild, and oftentimes out of our control.

Below you will find a list of locations in the PNW that are most likely to have wildfires. (NOTE: Along with this list, I have found that the same wildfire season and safety protocol applies to Utah Elopement Locations, as well as the Pacific Northwest. If you have questions about eloping in Utah and that compares to a PNW elopement, reach out!)

Locations in PNW mostly likely to have wildfires

Is your dream elopement location on this list? Don’t discount it just yet! Just because a location is more prone to wildfires does not mean that your celebration is inherently at risk, or that burn scars will impact the landscape of your elopement photos. Instead, it means that you are choosing to elope in an area with natural features that are subject to the environment, and additional precautions need to be taken to ensure you have the elopement of your dreams.

Wildfire in North Cascades National Park on your elopement

Expecting the Best (But Plan for the Worst!): Eloping in the Mountains During Wildfire Season

As an elopement photographer and elopement planner, I have learned how to successfully navigate the challenges that wildfire season often presents. Here are the ways I ensure my couple are confident (and safe!) when eloping in the mountains during wildfire season:

Monitor the Weather

Along with the FireApp, I monitor the weather closely every day leading up to the elopement, and I keep track of updates on both the National Park and National Forest websites for updates on conditions. This not only ensures we are prepared for the elements (a surprise PNW summer rainstorm or snowfall is always a possibility!) But keeping a close eye on these updates guarantees that I know about road closures as a result of wildfires or other weather and have alternate routes to get us safely to our destination.

Have a Plan B

You know what they say – it isn’t an adventure until something unexpected happens! If you are eloping in the mountains during wildfire season, the worst-case (and unlikely) scenario is that a wildfire is burning near your elopement area and you will need to change your location. That’s why the couples I work with always agree to a Plan B during the planning process. Being an elopement planner who is so familiar with the landscape means I will have an alternate location in mind no matter the weather, and one that provides a similarly stunning backdrop. This will ensure you still get your epic elopement photos and allow the adventure to continue.

Leave No Trace

One of the things I pride myself in as an elopement photographer is the Leave No Trace best practices that I incorporate into every elopement. This is especially true for couples eloping in the mountains during wildfire season! Principles such as planning and preparing, minimizing campfire impacts, and disposing of waste properly ensure that our presence in nature is safe and respectful. In following these principles, I know that I am doing my part to ensure the beauty of the outdoors is available for generations to come.

Mount Rainier during wildfire season

The Power of Preparation and Your Elopement

Whether you are an avid outdoors person wanting an adventurous way to symbolize your love or are simply entranced by the idea of elopement photos with stunning natural backdrops, eloping in the mountains during wildfire season can feel like a risky undertaking! But with careful planning, we can capture the magic of your elopement day regardless of acclimate weather conditions or surprise wildfires. As your elopement planner, my priority is your safety, and I am a firm believer that you can have unforgettable elopement photos, even during wildfire season.

If you have additional questions about helping couples navigate wildfires, the planning process, or locations for your elopement adventure, reach out! I can’t wait to help you make your special day as intentional and special as your love.

Stacy of Outshined Photography photographing Mount Rainier from Kelly Butte Fire Lookout

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  1. This is such a unique and helpful resource! I bet a lot of couples don’t think about how wildfires might impact their day, so this is incredibly useful!

  2. What a fantastic resource for couples eloping in the PNW. We’ve definitely developed a smoke season here and you’ve broken this down so easily. Make a plan but don’t let smoke season hold you back!

  3. I never thought about how the wildfires would affect my elopement in the PNW! I’m so glad I found this resource to make sure we have a back up plan – thank you for sharing this guide!