Asheville Elopement: A Guide to the Best Mountain Destinations for Your North Carolina Wedding

For Photographers

August 30, 2023

Asheville Elopement: A Guide to the Best Mountain Destinations for Your North Carolina Wedding

You’re eloping?! Wow! I am over the moon excited for you and your love, and let me just say, in my 10 years experience as a wedding photographer, elopements are my favorite, AND they are one of the most intentional ways to begin marriage.

One of the hardest parts about eloping is picking the, “WHERE.” It can be overwhelming (because the United States has so many incredible elopement locations), so let me give you a head start!

As a wedding photographer who has traversed through stunning landscapes and picturesque vistas, I can attest that North Carolina is a hidden gem for couples seeking an intimate elopement. In fact, I am actually based out of North Georgia, HOWEVER, 80% of the time I travel up to Asheville for my photoshoots because it is THAT remarkable.

And it’s worth it every time.

There are sooo many wonderful spots on this side of the U.S., but specially Western North Carolina, near Asheville, is my favorite. Hands down. To save you some time, I have but together a list of the 5 best places that are my absolute favorite in the area:

  1. Blue Ridge Parkway
  2. Roan Highlands
  3. Linville Wilderness
  4. Pisgah National Forest
  5. Nantahala National Forest

Are you looking for mountain tops with little to no hiking? Perhaps a roaring waterfall tucked in away in an evergreen forest? These areas just outside of Asheville have it ALL.

From the majestic Blue Ridge Parkway to the serene Nantahala National Forest, this region offers a plethora of breathtaking backdrops that are perfect for your special day.

Let’s dive right into it! Here is the “WHY” behind how these spots made it on my top 5 list of my favorite mountain destinations for a perfect elopement backdrop:

1. Blue Ridge Parkway Elopement

Distance from Asheville: 30 minutes to 1.5 hours

Hikes: 10 to 15 minutes

Permit Required: Yes – they cost $100. Read about it. No more than 25 people total.

Best Months: April – October

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic highway that stretches for 469 miles through the Appalachian Highlands in the United States, connecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. (so what this means is that you have MANY options to chose from) Renowned for its breathtaking vistas, diverse flora and fauna, and serene atmosphere, the Parkway is often referred to as “America’s Favorite Drive.” It offers travelers a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Stretching across undulating hills and valleys, the Parkway is a haven for elopements. Imagine exchanging vows against a backdrop of rolling mountains and an ever-changing canvas of colors during sunrise or sunset. With its numerous overlooks, forests, and waterfalls, finding a secluded spot for your ceremony is effortless, providing both privacy and unparalleled vistas!

The Parkway has just about everything…and my favorite part? You don’t have to hike far to get 360 degree mountain views. Sometimes it takes just a 10 minute walk to get views like these:

  1. Scenic Beauty: The Parkway is celebrated for its stunning landscapes, featuring rolling hills, vibrant wildflowers, and panoramic vistas. These picturesque views provide a naturally captivating setting for exchanging vows and creating lasting memories.
  2. Privacy and Intimacy: Elopements are often chosen for their intimacy and privacy. The Blue Ridge Parkway offers numerous secluded spots and overlooks where couples can celebrate their union in a serene and personal setting.
  3. Easy Access: While the Parkway itself is a driving route, there are numerous accessible pull-offs and trails that provide convenient locations for elopements. This makes it easier to find a spot that suits the couple’s preferences and comfort.
  4. Photography Opportunities: The changing seasons along the Parkway offer distinct visual experiences. From the vibrant colors of autumn to the delicate blossoms of spring, the variety of backdrops enhances the possibilities for stunning wedding photography.
  5. Nature-Inspired Ceremonies: Many couples are drawn to the idea of getting married in nature. The Blue Ridge Parkway delivers a nature-inspired ambiance that allows couples to feel connected to the environment as they exchange their vows.

Where are the best places to elope on the Blue Ridge Parkway? Let me show you a few snapshots:


  • At least 10 degrees cooler than Asheville. This is great for summer elopements!
  • My go-to place for fog and mist. (It’s one of the highest locations in the NC mountains)
  • It has a variety of background options: Mountain tops, waterfalls, and forests.
  • Most hikes for the best views are less than 20 minutes!
  • Relatively close to Asheville.
  • All roads are paved to get to destinations. So you don’t need an off road vehicle or off road driving experience!


  • The Parkway can have seasonal, weather, and construction related closures. So it’s important to check to make sure the roads are open on your elopement day. Seasonally, on average, it is closed from November to March because of winter weather.
  • It’s colder! Like mentioned above it’s usually at least 10 degrees cooler. For the seasons outside of summer it can be quite chilly. So be ready to bundle up!
  • The Parkway can get quite busy, especially in Summer and Fall months. I strongly encourage couples to consider a weekday or an early morning to help avoid large crowds.

Check out other blogs from the Blue Ridge Parkway:

Love Amidst the Clouds: An Engagement Session on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Misty Mountains Blue Ridge Parkway Engagement Session

Adventurous Blue Ridge Parkway Maternity Session

Rainy Blue Ridge Parkway Elopement

2. Roan Highlands Elopement

Distance from Asheville: 1.5 hours

Hike: 10 to 15 minutes

Permit Required: No

Best Months: April – November

Roan Highlands offers an otherworldly experience for couples seeking an elopement surrounded by clouds and wildflowers. Known for its rhododendron blooms in late spring, this location creates a dreamlike atmosphere. Whether you’re standing amidst misty mountain peaks or meandering through vibrant alpine meadows, Roan Highlands grants a sense of elevation – both literally and emotionally – to your special day!

It is renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty, featuring rolling mountains, lush forests, vibrant wildflowers, and stunning vistas. (it has it all) Its ever-changing landscape, from colorful blooms in spring to golden foliage in the fall, provides a stunning backdrop for elopement ceremonies and photographs.

It is also one of my go-to spots for fog and mist. The mountain is at around 5800ft above sea level which makes it commonly “in the clouds.” This also can make it feel much colder than other places lower in elevation. So bring a jacket just incase!


  • At least 10 degrees cooler than lower areas. This is great for summer elopements in North Carolina!
  • One of my go-to place for fog and mist.
  • It has a variety of background options: 360 mountain views, lush evergreen forests, wildflowers.
  • Short hike.
  • All roads are paved to get to destinations. So you don’t need an off road vehicle or off road driving experience!


  • This is a higher mountain area, so winters come earlier and can be quite cold. Summer rain storms can be frequent too. It’s important to keep an eye out on weather.
  • It’s colder! Like mentioned above it’s usually at least 10 degrees cooler. For the seasons outside of summer it can be quite chilly. So be ready to bundle up!
  • Roan can get quite busy, especially in Summer and Fall months. I strongly encourage couples to consider a weekday or an early morning to help avoid large crowds.

Check out other blogs from Roan Mountain:

Rekindling Love: Vow Renewal at Roan Mountain Tennessee

3. Linville Wilderness

Distance from Asheville: 1.5 hours

Hike: 25 – 45 minutes

Permit Required: No to couple. Photographer is required to have a guiding permit.

Best Months: March – October

Linville Gorge, often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” is a rugged and scenic wilderness area located in the Pisgah National Forest (but it deserves a section for itself!) of western North Carolina, United States. Here’s an overview of what makes Linville Gorge special.

It has a rich cultural and historical heritage, with evidence of Native American habitation dating back thousands of years. The gorge was once inhabited by the Cherokee people, and remnants of their settlements can still be found in the area.

The rugged terrain of Linville Gorge is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including black bears, white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and numerous bird species. Visitors may also encounter rare and endangered species such as peregrine falcons and eastern timber rattlesnakes.

For those desiring a remote and untouched setting, Linville Wilderness fits the bill perfectly. This hidden gem is home to cascading waterfalls, moss-covered rocks, and dense foliage, offering a natural cathedral for your vows. The immersive forested landscapes create a cocoon of intimacy, allowing you and your partner to truly connect with each other and the surroundings.

Linville Wilderness is HUGE. And there are many hikes and areas you can explore for your elopement.


  1. Natural Beauty: Linville Wilderness not only has wonderful hikes, but it also has many waterfalls too! It’s a great “hub” for a diverse landscape.
  2. Adventure: Who needs a traditional venue when you can say “I do” amidst rugged trails, towering trees, and cascading waterfalls? It’s an adventure you’ll cherish forever.
  3. Budget-Friendly: Forget pricey venues and extravagant decorations. Eloping in the wilderness keeps costs low, so you can invest in experiences rather than material things.
  4. Unique Experience: Your wedding won’t be like anyone else’s. It’s a one-of-a-kind celebration in a place that’s as unique as your love story.


  1. Logistical Challenges: Getting to your chosen spot might require some hiking, which could be tricky in wedding attire. This location pictures in particular is the hardest hike of the ones I offer to my couples. So you have to work for the view…but it is worth it!
  2. Limited Amenities: Don’t expect fancy bathrooms or catering services. You’re in the wild, so be prepared to rough it a bit.
  3. Weather Uncertainty: Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate. Rain, wind, or extreme temperatures could put a damper on your plans, so have a backup location or date in mind.
  4. Accessibility for Guests: If you’re hoping to have guests, consider their comfort and mobility. Not everyone may be up for a hike to your chosen spot.
  5. Some hikes require you to drive off road for a bit. Having a more durable vehicle helps.

Check out other blogs from Linville Wilderness:

Hike with the Dogs! Linville Gorge Engagement Session

Dreamy Linville Gorge & Looking Glass Falls Day After Photo Session

4. Pisgah National Forest

Distance from Asheville: 1 hours average

Hike: 10-15 minutes

Permit Required: No to couple. Photographer is required to have a guiding permit. No more than 75 guests.

Best Months: March – November

With its diverse terrain, Pisgah National Forest caters to every elopement preference. Spanning across over 500,000 acres holding crystal-clear streams and waterfalls to dense woods and scenic vistas, this forest is couple’s paradise! Whether you’re envisioning a rustic woodland ceremony or a mountaintop exchange, Pisgah National Forest ensures your elopement encapsulates the essence of Western North Carolina’s natural beauty.

The forest is crisscrossed by hundreds of miles of hiking trails, including sections of the Appalachian Trail and the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Popular hiking destinations include Looking Glass Rock, Linville Gorge, and Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River.

Whether you’re avid hikers or casual strollers, Pisgah boasts an extensive network of trails just waiting to be explored. Imagine saying “I do” atop a windswept summit, with panoramic views stretching as far as the eye can see. Or perhaps you prefer the intimacy of a secluded meadow, where wildflowers sway gently in the breeze as you pledge your love.

P.S. Pisgah is THE place is find the best wildflowers in the summer.


  1. Natural Beauty: Pisgah National Forest is a HUGE span of land. So it offers a lot! From breathtaking scenery with its ancient forests, towering peaks, to cascading waterfalls, it provides a stunning backdrop for your elopement ceremony and photographs. This is my go-to spot for wildflowers!
  2. Privacy and Intimacy: With its vast expanse of wilderness, Pisgah allows couples to elope in secluded locations away from the crowds, providing a sense of privacy and intimacy for their special day.
  3. Adventure Opportunities: Couples can incorporate adventure into their elopement by hiking to remote locations or exchanging vows atop scenic overlooks, adding an element of excitement and exploration to their celebration. However it also has incredible views for as little as a 10 minute hike.
  4. Cost Savings: Eloping in Pisgah can be more affordable than a traditional wedding, as couples can avoid many of the expenses associated with a larger event, such as venue fees, catering, and décor.


  1. Weather Variability: The weather in Pisgah National Forest can be unpredictable, with sudden changes in temperature, rain showers, or fog. Couples should be prepared for inclement weather and have a backup plan in place.
  2. Leave No Trace Principles: Pisgah National Forest follows the Leave No Trace principles, (which is a good thing!) which promote responsible outdoor ethics to minimize human impact on the environment. However what this means for weddings is there can be no flowers, confetti, decor, etc brought it.
  3. Accessibility Challenges: While Pisgah offers a variety of landscapes and settings, some locations may be difficult to access, especially for guests with mobility limitations. Couples should consider the accessibility of their chosen elopement site when making plans.
  4. Limited Amenities: Unlike traditional wedding venues, Pisgah National Forest does not offer amenities such as restrooms, seating, or shelter. Couples may need to provide their own accommodations or make arrangements for basic necessities.
  5. Remote Locations: Elopement sites in Pisgah may be located in remote or isolated areas, which could pose logistical challenges for transportation, lodging, and communication. Couples should plan accordingly and ensure they have reliable means of navigation and communication. Some locations require you drive on long, mountain roads. So a durable vehicle is recommended.

Check out other blogs from Pisgah National Forest:

Foggy Mountain Engagement Session near Asheville North Carolina

Winter Mountain Engagement Session

3. Nantahala National Forest

Distance from Asheville: 1.5 hours

Hike: 10-15 minutes

Permit Required: No to couple. Photographer is required to have a guiding permit.

Best Months: April – December (closed January – the end of March)

Spanning over 531,000 acres, Nantahala National Forest encompasses a variety of landscapes, including rugged mountain peaks, lush forests, cascading waterfalls, and pristine rivers and streams. The forest is part of the larger Appalachian Mountains and is known for its stunning natural beauty.

Hiking trails wind through the forest, providing access to scenic overlooks, backcountry camping sites, and points of interest such as Whitewater Falls, the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River. The forest is also popular for fishing, hunting, mountain biking, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing.

Scenic drives such as the Cherohala Skyway and the Blue Ridge Parkway offer breathtaking views of the forest and surrounding mountains. These scenic byways attract visitors year-round, especially during the fall foliage season when the forest is ablaze with vibrant colors.

Elopements are inherently adventurous, and Nantahala National Forest caters perfectly to couples seeking a sense of adventure on their wedding day. From hiking along scenic trails to discovering hidden waterfalls or even embarking on a whitewater rafting trip, the forest offers endless opportunities for adventure and exploration, adding an exciting element to the elopement experience.


  1. Natural Beauty: Nantahala National Forest boasts stunning landscapes, including lush forests, picturesque waterfalls, and majestic mountain views, providing a breathtaking backdrop for your elopement ceremony and photographs.
  2. Privacy and Intimacy: Eloping in the forest offers couples the opportunity to exchange vows in a secluded and intimate setting, away from the crowds and distractions of traditional wedding venues. One of the locations I go to is one of the most quiet and secretive places as many people don’t know about it yet.
  3. Adventure: The forest provides ample opportunities for adventure, from hiking scenic trails to exploring hidden waterfalls or embarking on outdoor activities like whitewater rafting or zip-lining, adding excitement and spontaneity to your elopement day.


  1. Weather Uncertainty: The weather in the forest can be unpredictable, ranging from sunny skies to sudden rain showers or even snowfall, which may pose challenges for planning an outdoor ceremony and activities. We once got caught in an intense storm because of how much quicker weather rolled in. Mountain weather is crazy!
  2. Accessibility: Some areas of the forest may require hiking or off-road driving to reach, which could pose logistical challenges for couples and their guests, especially those with mobility issues or limited outdoor experience. The location in the pictures above requires an AWD or 4×4 vehicle.
  3. Distance from Services: The forest’s remote location may mean limited access to nearby services such as lodging, restaurants, or emergency facilities, requiring couples to plan and prepare accordingly for accommodations and other essentials.
  4. Closures: Through the months of January – the end of March this location above is closed to preserve the habitat of nesting of peregrine falcons.

Check out other blogs from Nantahala National Forest:

In these Twilight Hours: Western North Carolina Mountain Engagement Session

A Foggy Engagement in the North Carolina Mountains

Moody Franklin North Carolina Elopement

Obtaining a Marriage License in North Carolina

Steps to take:

  • You will likely get a marriage license from the Buncombe County Register of Deeds during office hours (8 AM – 4:30 PM) if you’re eloping around Asheville.
  • Complete the Marriage License Application prior to your visit.
  • Both people must be present with valid Photo ID’s AND social security cards
  • The Marriage License fee is $60
  • The license is valid for 60 days and can be used anywhere in the State of North Carolina

Recommended Officiants

Vanessa with Adventure Officiant

Julia with Heartfelt Elopements

Wanna start planning your Asheville mountain wedding?

It can be overwhelming when you start to plan out your wedding – even with elopements. My goal and heart is to help make this easier and enjoyable for the both of you.

Head on over to my contact page to start a conversation and let’s make this journey into the North Carolina Mountains one to remember!

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Georgia based adventurer photographer