The first time I ever drove through Beartooth Pass was on my way from Bozeman, Montana back to Wisconsin. I was visiting my friend and her parents told me to take the scenic way back. Despite adding 6 hours to our drive, we went for it. The sun was just starting to go down as we reached the mountain road. We we’re listening to Bon Iver’s album 22, A Million. The peaks all around us started to glow, and the alpine lakes were shining all the way to Red Lodge, Montana.
I remember specifically pulling over to the side of the road and getting out of the car for a bit. The air was chilly and there was still snow despite being July. Everything was so still, so big, so powerful. Dan and I just quietly took everything while the song “8 Circle” was playing. We now have a tradition of listening to “8 Circle” at the end of a long day of backpacking, when just just want to chill and take everything in. Everyone needs a moment to just be, observe, and become with with the moment.
We didn’t have much time on Beartooth Highway, it was dark and we had to be home to work on Monday. We left out the city of Red Lodge, Montana with a sense of wonder. Beartooth wilderness is MASSIVE, and we had only quickly driven through the winding roads. What else was there to see?
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Beartooth Pass Elopement
Fast forward a few years, and I had the opportunity to shoot Stepf and Brandon at an alpine lake near Beartooth Mountain. Beartooth Mountain, by the way, gets its name because it’s sharp and pointy just like a bear’s tooth.
Our hike started just a 10 minute drown down Beartooth Highway from the town of Red Lodge Montana. We arrived to the trailhead about 9am and packed our bags for our journey down the 14 mile out and back trail that would lead us to the alpine lake we had our eyes set on. None of us had seen the alpine lake in person before, but I had done a ton of research on this place, and knew it would be exactly the spot we were looking for. We packed up the bear spray, tents, food, and wedding dress, and off we went.
The first few miles of the trail were well marked up a steady incline. We followed a river for a while with pine trees all around us. We stopped for lunch and snacks a few times – we were in no rush. Stopping for multiple breaks to just relax, laugh, and take in the views is one of the perks of booking a multi-day elopement. We we’re bound by any strict timeline, no guests to please, just the three of us – enjoying every freakin moment to the full.
A lack of trails is pretty common in Beartooth Pass
After mile 4, the trail cut to the left and all but disappeared. The bushwhacking began. We went up a pretty steep ascent for the next 2 miles, with zero trail. There were plenty of downed trees and bushes to work around. After some solid navigating, we finally found our way out of the tree line. The final mile was all scrambling over boulders and snow fields until we finally reached the lake, which was completely unoccupied. Other than the many bear and elk tracks we saw, we were the only people at the lake.
We arrived to the lake around 3pm and had plenty of time to relax, eat some more snacks, and take in the beautiful scenery surrounding Beartooth, Montana.
Multi-day adventure elopement packages
Honestly, my favorite type of elopement to shoot is a multi-day adventure elopement. We really have so much time to just be in the moment and enjoy what’s actually happening.
After getting to camp and setting up, we took some time to go exploring around the lake. There was a ton of blue ice floating around on the lake, and it felt nice to cool off for a while after our morning hike.
Once we felt relaxed and rested, we headed back to the tents to start getting ready for the ceremony photos. A tent actually makes a great bridal suite, in case you were wondering. We spent the next few hours til sun down just enjoying the moment and taking some pretty epic photos of their elopement in Beartooth Montana.
The rest of the evening was spend just totally chilling around a little campfire we made and eating Backpacker’s Pantry Pad Thai (seriously the best freakin backpacking food you’ll ever eat).
After a solid night’s sleep, we woke up early to see the most beautiful reflection of the mountains on the lake. Needless to say, we made use of the time (again, we were in no rush) and took more photos with that perfect glowing light. I will literally never get over all of the cool shit nature seems to do at the exact right time – always.
I’m ready to elope!
If you are wondering exactly what the process looks like to book your own elopement, check out our Process & FAQ page to see what booking your dream elopement entails. We have multiple different Adventure Elopement Packages to make sure you get exactly what you’re looking for. Feel free to contact us, we would love to hear all about your vision for your elopement! Here are some of our favorite photos from this adventure elopement in Beartooth Pass!