To be honest, my new favorite place to shoot in the PNW might be North Cascades National Park. It has been on my bucket list to visit since I moved up north and it did not disappoint. It was quieter than I expected (even on a weekend?) because it had been so smokey for most of the summer, the views were truly never-ending, and it was dog friendly!!
This North Cascades engagement session was EPIC! Not only did I get to shoot with one of my good friends, Jillian, and her fiancee, Devon, but we got to camp up there together for the weekend and explore the park! They brought their cute pup, Scout, and I got to bring my two doggos too (see them make a cameo at the very end of the post). North Cascades National Park is in fact very dog friendly – especially for a US National Park. Be sure to do your research beforehand and make sure you are well aware of the leash laws and where you can (and can’t) bring your dog. We did two pretty epic hikes (both dog friendly) over the weekend that I highly recommend.
- Maple Pass Loop. This has got to be one of my favorite hikes of all time. It was steep on the way up, but gradual and not too bad! We did it counterclockwise as many others were doing as well. There’s views almost the entire way looking down on little blue alpine lakes, wildflowers in the late summer, and at the top is just a big WOW. Views of mountains 360 degrees around you and pretty hard to beat.
- Blue Lake. We did this hike later the same day after we had already hiked over 8 miles so we were wiped but wanted to get another one in! It was stunning and not too difficult. The trail meanders through the woods for most of the way up and leads you to a pristine blue lake with a big mountain face with snow capped peaks. The dogs had a good (and freezing) swim and we headed back down the hill!
- Diablo Lake. There are some trails around Diablo Lake but we just went to the overlook due to lack of time. This is the iconic “gatorade” blue lake you will see in a lot of the photos below. Sunsets here are stunning!
We camped for two nights at a group campsite we found on HipCamp just outside of the park in Marblemount, WA. There are some campgrounds (and a resort) in North Cascades itself but they are hard to come by and require advanced reservations. Because of the crazy fires and smoke this last summer we had to make a last minute call and therefore had to stay outside of the park. The drive in was stunning and worth it!! Plus we had a quiet campground near the river that was perfect for three humans and three dogs.
I would highly highly recommend considering having your engagement session or elopement at North Cascades National Park. It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been and is certainly worth the extra drive from either Seattle (2.5 hours) or Portland (5 hours). Plus if you go you can make a weekend out of it and explore like we did!