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December 9, 2022

Foggy Hatcher Pass Elopement

FILED IN: Alaska, Elopements

foggy hatcher pass elopement double exposure

FOGGY MORNING HATCHER PASS ELOPEMENT INSPIRATION

How to Elope in Hatcher Pass

Hatcher Pass is one of my favorite places to visit in Alaska. Like many of the beautiful locations in Alaska it once held massive glaciers that have since receded and melted to form this incredible valley. It’s located in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley (the Mat-Su) right outside of Palmer and about 90 minutes from Anchorage. The road up to Hatcher Pass winds through the Talkeetna Mountains and offers views of snowy mountain peaks, expansive tundra, flowing rivers, wildflowers, and the iconic red cabins.

I’ve had the pleasure of exploring Hatcher Pass a few times now, and it never feels like enough. Every single time I drive the winding road and see the hills my jaw hits the floor. It truly is an otherworldly place.

PLACES TO EXPLORE IN HATCHER PASS

Near the base are trails for hiking, cross-country skiing, and mountain biking as well as the Little Susitna River. Locals also love blueberry picking in this area.

Around 3,000 feet up, you ‘ll find the iconic Hatcher Pass Lodge and it’s surrounding little red cabins. Seeing these cabins was on my bucket list for a long time before I finally had the chance to visit. Now that I’ve been there a couple of times, I can assure you that they are as adorable as they look on the internet. The lodge itself is open year round and has a cozy atmosphere with food, board games, and a sauna. Close to the lodge is the Independence Mine, which offers tours and a museum.

Many of the higher points in Hatcher Pass are closed for the majority of the year due to avalanches. The road over the pass from Palmer to Willow closes when the snow begins to fall (usually late September) and opens again on the 4th of July. About 2 miles up from the cabins and Independence Mine is Summit Lake, an absolutely stunning emerald lake near the summit of Hatch Peak. The narrow dirt road to Summit Lake is also open only during summer months, however the area is popular year-round. Paragliders and blueberry pickers frequent the area in the summer time. In the wintertime, it is a popular area for skiing and snowmachining. Fun fact: The skiing at Hatcher Pass is so good, it used to be a training site for Junior Olympic Ski Team.

HOW TO ELOPE IN HATCHER PASS

Permits depend on the size of your party. For weddings and elopements with 20 people or more, you will need a special parks use permit. For small elopements and styled shoots with less than 20 people, you may need a non-competitive commercial permit. To find out if you need a permit you can contact the State of Alaska Division of Natural Resources, Department of Parks and Outdoor Recreation.

WHEN TO ELOPE IN HATCHER PASS

Hatcher Pass averages about 7 months of snow per year. Toward the summit, it can snow year round, and snowball fights sometimes break out in the summer. If you want access to the highest elevation for the most epic mountain shots, you’ll want to elope when the roads are open between July and September. If you’re wanting to elope here when it’s warm and the wildflowers are in bloom, you should aim for July or August. If you’re wanting fall colors like the ones in these photos, these were taken in late September. It actually snowed a week after these photos were taken. However, if you don’t mind some patches of snow and don’t feel the need to venture to the tippy-top, you can get some truly beautiful moody photos in October and for slightly warmer weather but with snow still on the peaks, shoot for May or June.

The Experience

We started our shoot before sunrise at Lulus Tents and Events, a glamping site on the Knik River. Paige got her hair and makeup done by Beauty by Jaelynn and got ready in a boho glamping yurt while X napped in their truck. When the sun began to rise, Paige and X shared a first look by the Knik river and then toasted with some champagne and an adorable strawberry charcuterie board by Alaska Berry and Board. After their micro-celebration and some more intimate photos in the yurt, we headed off to Hatcher Pass.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THEIR FIRST LOOK AND GLAMPING PHOTOS

When we headed to Hatcher’s Pass, the sun had just barely risen and so the pass was still golden; the air felt crisp and the flowers were dewy. We took some photos at the cabins and we drove up toward the summit, stopping at a pull-off along the way. For the most part, I wanted the photos to feel natural, so I occasionally gave Paige and X some prompts and directions but let them explore the hillside and gave them the space to be immersed in each other and nature. Nobody expected the clouds to roll in the way they did. As we walked out toward the rolling hills, the fog became thicker and thicker, and at one point we were literally in the clouds. This is when I suggested that they danced, because what is more romantic than dancing in the clouds?

Paige and Xavier

The photos in this post were taken during a styled elopement shoot organized by myself and Alaska Wild Rose Weddings and Events. The models, Paige and Xavier (X) Weimer, have been married for nearly ten years. Our elopement styled shoot was actually their THIRD wedding ceremony. They originally eloped in Clarksville, Tennesse and had a full blown wedding a few years later at The Highgrove in Fuquay Varina, North Carolina. Working with Paige and Xavier was so fun because they were total wedding photo pros, and honestly down to try anything when it came to creating these photos. They had fun together during the shoot and later that night, Xavier told Paige that he really enjoyed the day, and that he had a blast running around in the mountains with his wife. Paige and Xavier have 2 little ones under 4 years old, so a whole day to celebrate their love and go back to their roots as a couple was really special.

Vendors

Venue: Hatcher Pass Cabins

Planner and Coordinator: Alaska Wild Rose Weddings

Florals: The Teal Door

Dress: Daliance Gown Rentals

Hair and Makeup: Beauty by Jaelynn

Sources

Guide to Hatcher Pass

Hatcher Pass Lodge

Independence Mine State Historical Park

History of the Independence Mine

Hatcher Pass Avalanche Forecast

State of Alaska Division of Natural Resources, Department of Parks and Outdoor Recreation

Considering planning a surprise proposal in Alaska?

I’d love to be considered as your proposal photographer! Simply fill out the contact form to get started!

Hey there, I’m Sierra! I’m your photographer, travel guide, and biggest hypewoman. When you work with me, you can expect to dance, run, piggyback, motorboat, swear, laugh, and get messy. So what I’m saying is: wear comfortable shoes, throw the rulebook away, and don’t take life too seriously (none of us get out alive).

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