While the pacific northwest is well known for its striking beauty, the state of Idaho is often overlooked, making it a completely underrated elopement destination! In Idaho, you’ll find remote mountains, natural hot springs, pristine lakes, and vast vistas – any of which would make the perfect backdrop for an adventure elopement. If you’re hoping to elope somewhere off the beaten path, where you get all the views and none of the crowds, keep reading this guide to learn how to elope in Idaho from a local expert!(I grew up here!)
Set an Elopement Date
The first thing you’ll need to do to elope in Idaho is set a date! Before you open up a tab for Google Calendar, there are a few things that you should think about.
Weather in Idaho
Idaho definitely experiences all 4 seasons, which means summers can get up to 90 degrees, while winters are often frigid and snowy. Unless you’re planning to go skiing or build some snowmen during your elopement day (which I totally support, by the way!), most couples’ ideal elopement won’t happen in the winter.
If you’re planning an intense hike and reaching high elevations, summer will be your best bet for a snow-free hike! Day time can get pretty hot, so if you aren’t planning to hike too far up, I recommend eloping in the fall, when temperatures drop to a cool 60 degrees, and the leaves change colors.
Eloping in the spring gives you the opportunity to see wildflowers in full bloom, but with that comes lots of rain!
While it’s great that more people are enjoying the outdoors, most of us get out in nature to escape the noise and crowds – and that’s especially true on your elopement day! To find a private spot to say your vows, there are a few things you can do.
I always recommend that couples elope on a weekday – while most people are at work, you’ll have the outdoor locations to yourself! Or at least, more to yourself than you would on the weekends. Plan your elopement for Monday through Thursday, and leave the weekends for tourists.
Another way to escape the crowds is to elope at sunrise! Even if you aren’t an early bird, you gotta admit that there’s something magical about being awake before everyone else, and getting to watch the sun come up! Just imagine saying your vows as the sky lights up in pink and purple behind you – the early wake up call will be worth it! If you aren’t sold on waking up early, sunset is a great option as well. While it won’t be as empty as sunrise, most places will be much less crowded towards the end of the day.
Choose an Elopement Location
Idaho is best known for its potatoes, and second best known for its natural beauty. When you’re figuring out how to elope in Idaho, you’ll have to narrow it down – so here are the highlights of this beautiful state.
Southern Idaho is best known for its beautiful desert land, towering waterfalls, convenient hot springs, and gigantic canyon with the Snake River. I lived in Twin Falls for 2 years as I went to college and fell in love with the adventure opportunities here!
City of Rocks
If you travel to Southern Idaho, you will encounter some of the most gorgeous desert lands with interesting rock formations. Spots like City of Rocks makes a perfect elopement spot for climbers and campers. Rock climbers come all over the United States to hang out here!
Craters of the Moon
Just a bit away from City of Rocks, sits the National Monument “Craters of the Moon”. This will have you feeling like you just landed on, well, the moon! This unique spot is made up of lava fields and small patches of brush and grassland. Eloping here will provide an interesting backdrop, and the chance to take a step back in time and explore the remnants of volcanic activity in Idaho.
Twin Falls and Shoshone Falls
There are many other amazing spots located in Southern Idaho like Twin Falls, which encompasses a 3,600 foot tall bridge that towers atop the Snake River where base jumpers can be seen daily in the summer time. You can even drive into the canyon to swim, boat, golf, fish, and hike! There’s even a waterfall to walk behind that makes this beauty really come together. Lastly, just up the road you can visit the beautiful State Park of Shoshone Falls, which makes for an amazing viewpoint to share on your elopement!
Central Idaho – Sawtooth Mountains
Central Idaho is nestled in the Sawtooth Mountains, which are home to hundreds of trails leading to lakes, waterfalls, and mountain peaks. Stay in these quaint and cute small towns that are surrounding the jagged peaks of the Sawtooths. After a day spent hiking and exploring, you can relax at one of the local breweries, or even at a hot springs!
Challis and Salmon
The cities of Challis and Salmon are just a bit north of “Central Idaho”, but are definitely worth considering for your elopement. You’ll be able to avoid the crowds of other cities that bring in more tourists without compromising for beauty. If raging rivers, seclusion, large mountains, and abundant wildlife is what you are desiring for your elopement – these are the locations meant for you. One of my favorite hot springs is located here too, Goldbug Hot Springs, where you can sit atop the valley while soaking in hot water.
Sun Valley and Stanley
Did I mention hot springs? If you are looking for more a more convenient hot spring soak to your day, you can literally stop on the side of the road here and jump in! Stanley and Sun Valley also provide many activities like boating, camping, backpacking, white water rafting, and fishing. You could even visit Sun Valley Ski Resort for your winter elopement or lodge at Redfish Lake in Stanley while boat touring at sunset. Check out this other blog post here to see how incredible Stanley could be for your hot springs elopement like this couple did!
This side of the state is best known for its growing capital, Boise – but there’s some pretty unique places to elope in Central Idaho.
Although there’s only a few spots in Boise I’d recommend for an adventurous outdoor elopement, it’s a perfect place to stay, dine, and play! It’s only a couple hours from the Sawtooth range and Boise National Forest.
This 10 mile wide canyon, that sits between Idaho and Oregon is one of the coolest “hidden gems” Idaho has! Not only is it deeper than the Grand Canyon, but it’s easy to tour into the canyon by boat, kayak, or white water rafting. Check out this site to learn more about this unique area here.
Located at the bottom of Payette river, this town offers adventures for elopements all year round. It’s best known for its Nordic skiing/snowmobiling and water recreations during the summer. It’s a very scenic area of Idaho that is perfect for those wanting to experience still lakes and large mountains without large crowds of tourists.
North Idaho is quite different from the rest of the state, but not for bad reasons! It’s home to large lakes – great for water activities, gorgeous dining, and a fun place to stay at!
This small town is home to Coeur d’Alene Lake, which is surrounded by forests and secluded hiking trails. The quaint town is great to explore for delicious local restaurants, artisan shops, and breweries! You can even take a ferry boat ride across the lake or hit up Silverwood Theme Park for an after celebration of your elopement.
Nestled in rolling, green hills and mountains sits an ever-growing city that is perfect for an elopement. Not only can you hit up some of the best breweries, but you are just a short drive away from hiking, backpacking, camping, and wildflower viewing.
This eastern side of Idaho is famously known for being close to Grand Tetons National Park and Yellowstone. As a local who grew up here, I spent my childhood exploring this small community. It provides luscious forests, plentiful outdoor activities, and amazing views of The Snake River and Tetons.
Victor, Driggs, Tetonia, Idaho Falls
I categorize these cities together because they are my favorite options for lodging if you are wanting to elope in the Tetons or Yellowstone without the large price tag. You’ll be anywhere from 1-2 hours from the park, but there are so many gorgeous places to explore outside the park that encompass the same feel. Some of my favorite hikes for views of The Grand Tetons reside here.
West Yellowstone and Island Park
These cities are also close to the National Parks! These are my personal favorite areas if you are wanting a unique camping experience and miles of forest, mountains, and sagebrush. West Yellowstone and Island Park also provide some of the best horse trail riding experiences outside the National Parks.
Research Marriage Laws
Marriage laws vary by state, so you’ll need to brush up on how to elope in Idaho to make sure your marriage is legal and valid.
To get a marriage license in Idaho, you’ll have to visit the county recorder’s office together, along with one form of ID and your social security number. Fees vary by county, but the marriage license is usually around $30 – though many offices only take cash, so call ahead to make sure! There is no waiting period after you get your license, and it is good for up to one year. If you travel to Idaho from out of state, make sure to get there early and give yourself time to do this as most require in-person appointments.
Idaho requires an officiant to sign your marriage license, but you have a few options for who can perform your elopement ceremony. You can hire an elopement officiant who is ready to adventure with you, or you can have a friend or family member marry you! Getting ordained is free and easy on ULC.org, so if there’s someone you trust to perform your ceremony, this can add a great personal touch to your elopement.
Unlike most US states, Idaho doesn’t require witnesses! You can have a totally private ceremony, if that’s what feels right to you.
Book Your Vendors
Elopement vendors will make such a huge difference in your day – so hire a team you trust! Planning even a small elopement ceremony can be stressful, but as an elopement photographer, my job is to guide you through it!
I have a list of vendors who specialize in elopements ready, and from finding off the beaten path locations, to putting together a customized timeline for your day, I’m ready to be your guide, cheerleader, and of course, photographer! If you’re ready to elope in Idaho, contact me to start planning your unique, adventurous elopement with your fellow Idahoan expert.