Where to Elope in Western North Carolina


So you decided to elope in North Carolina, awesome! But now you have to decide where... North Carolina has so much to offer, beautiful views of the blue ridge mountains, waterfalls freaking everywhere, awesome mountain lakes, and beautiful coastal beaches. There are so many more amazing spots to consider, I offer location guidance for all of my couples and I have spent years exploring these forests to find some of my favorite spots. So I still have a few "secret" spots, but theses are 4 somewhat popular spots that I still love to go to. For each spot I'll go over all the details you need to know for how to elope there: how accessible it is, what the permit requirements are, what there is to do nearby, where to fly into, and some great places to stay nearby. So let's go ahead and jump right into it.



Table of contents:


1. Blue Ridge Parkway

2. Pisgah National Forest

3. Lake Lure

4. Downtown Asheville




1. Blue Ridge Parkway

One of the most iconic places to visit in North Carolina is the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Blue Ridge Parkway is 469 miles spanning from Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to Shenanadoah National Park in Virginia. Even if you don't decide to have your wedding on the parkway I highly suggest enjoying part of this ridiculously scenic drive. There are hundreds of trails that you can access off of the parkway as well as overlooks every couple of miles. So from an accessibility standpoint you can park your car and walk right out to a beautiful view. So let's get into the specifics of what it takes to elope on the blue ridge parkway:


Accessibility:

The parkway has numerous locations that are extremely accessible. Including many overlooks that involve no hiking. There are also many spots that have pathed paths as well. But don't worry, if you're looking for a bit more of an adventure there are still plenty of awesome hikes that you can access off the parkway as well.


Permit Requirements: A permit is required. If you are having a ceremony or exchanging vows in any way (including a vow renewal) a permit is required. A permit is $100. They do not issue permits for the ENTIRE month of October, on any federal holiday, or any federal holiday weekend. You must apply for your permit at least 30 days prior to your wedding date. Your wedding permit covers both your officiant and photographer as well. Group sizes are limited to less than 25 guests. Full instructions for how to apply including links to the appropriate forms can be found on the blue ridge parkway website here: https://www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/wedding-permits.htm


Where can you NOT get married on the parkway: Due to popularity, limited parking, fragile plant life, and a variety of other reasons there are certain locations that you are NOT able to have a ceremony at along the parkway.

  • Inside any government building, historic or otherwise

  • MP 176.2 - Mabry Mill historic area (May be permitted in the grass area in front of the Mill pond)

  • MP 213.3 – Blue Ridge Music Center

  • MP 241.1 – Bluffs Lodge and surrounding grounds

  • MP 294.0 – Bass Lake

  • MP 302.8 – Rough Ridge Overlook and boardwalk

  • MP 305.2 – Beacon Heights left fork trail (May be permitted at the end of the right fork trail)

  • MP 316.4 – Linville Falls

  • MP 339.5 – Crabtree Falls

  • MP 364.1 – Craggy Gardens Pinnacle Trail, Pinnacle Scenic View, and Craggy Dome Parking Area (May be permitted at Craggy Flats Bald)

  • MP 418.8 – Graveyard Fields

  • MP 422.4 – Devil’s Courthouse

  • MP 451.2 – Waterrock Knob

Where you CAN get married on the parkway, but with LIMITED capacity

  • MP 74.7 – Thunder Ridge Overlook – Limited to 15 total participants

  • MP 85.9 – Sharp Top Pinnacle – Limited to 15 total participants

  • MP 320.8 – Chestoa View Overlook – Limited to 12 total participants


Best time of year to get married on the parkway:

The best time of year to get married on the parkway would be from April-November, keeping in mind that you CANNOT get married there in October. April and November can be a bit iffy. Much of the parkway is at elevations of 5000+ feet and as we ease into winter months it can substantially colder there. If there is ice or snow the parkway will close certain sections. In the middle of winter there are almost no available areas to access the parkway by car. You are allowed to park and then hike out, but that could be quite the trek. So if you want to get married on the parkway it's better to plan for late spring through fall.



What to do nearby:

  • Driving the parkway itself is a super fun activity. Just enjoying the views and stopping at all the awesome overlooks.

  • There's also hundreds of hikes nearby. A few favorites in the area are Black Balsam, Craggy Gardens, section hiking the Mountains to Sea trail, but honestly I would suggest checking out Alltrails or Hiking Project and searching by length and difficulty and you will be given a whole bunch of options.

  • Check out Downtown Asheville. Full of art, delicious food, and so many good breweries.


Where to fly into:

Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) it is definitely a smaller airport but is the closest to mountain access. If you're ok with a bit more of a drive Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT).


Where to stay:

There are so many awesome little mountain towns near the parkway. If you want more of a city feel but want to be close to the parkway Asheville is definitely the top choice. If you want a smaller town feel then Black Mountain, Sylva, or Brevard are some other awesome places to stay.


Other Notes:

You cannot have a real bouquet for your blue ridge parkway elopement. Live or dried flowers are NOT allowed. Faux flower bouquets are totally fine.






2. Pisgah National Forest

Pisgah National Forest is over 500,000 acres of national forest land located in the Appalachian mountains of western North Carolina. There are hundreds of miles of trails, white water rivers, and so many waterfalls. Transylvania county alone has 250+ waterfalls and is known as "the land of waterfalls."




Accessibility:

There are some areas that are easily accessible. These are mostly picnic areas. Many spots do require some amount of hiking.


Permit Requirements:

A permit IS NOT required for events with less than 75 guests. Although I'll be honest if you are having a wedding celebration of that size I would highly suggest not having it on public land because of the impact that many guests would have on the forest.


Best time of year to get married in Pisgah National Forest:

You can get married in Pisgah National Forest all year. Winter months you will find less crowds, cooler weather, maybe some snow (we don't get too much snow here in NC but at higher elevations you are likely to find some), and less greenery (rhododendrons only lose their leaves every 7 years so even in the winter you can find some green). Summer months are some of the most popular times to visit Pisgah National Forest. There will be more crowds, plenty of greenery, and hot weather. For the summer months definitely planning for weekdays and early mornings is your best bet to find more privacy on the trails. Spring time is a great time to visit. Something is just so awesome about all the fresh greenery blooming. The tourism season hasn't quite hit yet and the temperature is usually great, we do tend to have more rain in the spring season. Fall is another very popular time to visit the forest. The leaves changing is absolutely gorgeous in the forest. So expect to see plenty of beautiful trees, a good amount crowding, and great weather. So still a good time of year to plan for more weekdays and early mornings to help avoid the crowds.



What to do nearby:

  • Check out the hundreds of miles of trails throughout the forest!

  • Go chase some waterfalls. Check out a natural water slide at sliding rock.

  • Go biking! Pisgah National Forest is known as one of the best places to go mountain biking on the east coast (it's the whole reason we moved here 😉)

  • Check out one of the many amazing breweries Sierra Nevada Brewing, Oskar Blues Brewery, and Noblebrau Brewing are some of my go to favorites.

Where to fly into:

Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) it is definitely a smaller airport but is the closest to the forest. If you're ok with a bit more of a drive Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT).


Where to stay:

There are so many awesome little mountain towns here but you can also still stay in Asheville if you want more a city feel. If you want a smaller town feel then Black Mountain, Sylva, or Brevard are some other awesome places to stay.




3. Lake Lure

A gorgeous little manmade lake nestled in the mountains of North Carolina. It also happens to be where many scenes from Dirty Dancing were photographed. The town has plenty of little shops, great places to eat, and breathtaking views. The lake is very close to Chimney Rock State Park as well so if you're looking to do some more hiking Chimney Rock is a great option.



Accessibility:

Lake lure is very accessible. Many of the paths around the lake are paved and have little to no elevation gain. At Chimney Rock you are able to hike to the top with the use of a whole bunch of stairs but the also have an elevator!! So overall it is probably one of the most accessible areas.


Permit Requirements:


It varies. Depending on group size and the exact location a permit may or may not be required. It is always best to reach out and describe your event to the town to confirm. If you plan to rent the pavilion or rent the grass space at Morse Park you are able to fill out an application and do so. The fee for the pavilion is $500 and the fee for the grass space at Morse Park is $250. More information on each of these locations here: https://www.townoflakelure.com/community/page/having-event-lake-lure-what-know


Chimney Rock State Park has a variety of awesome spots to consider as well. Their permit requirements vary based on location and the size of the event. You can find more information here: https://www.chimneyrockpark.com/group-guidelines-rates/weddings-2/


Best time of year to get married in Lake Lure:

Lake Lure is accessible year round. Each season offers it's own unique benefits. In spring everything is just starting to bloom and the temperatures are much more mild, there does tend to be more rain. In summer it is prime time for tourism so expect there to be more crowding and visitors and it can be quite hot. But it is also a great time to visit if you want to remake some scenes from dirty dancing 😉. Fall is a wonderful time to visit lake lure as the temperatures are more moderate and the leaves are changing. Winter is also a great time to visit, but some years they do drain the lake for maintenance so you have to keep an eye on that.



What to do nearby:

  • Enjoy the beach around the lake! Or enjoy the water maybe kayaking, paddle boarding, or boating.

  • Go for a hike on one of the many awesome trails nearby.

  • Check out the flowering bridge! A beautiful community garden over a bridge right in town.

Where to fly into:

Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) it is definitely a smaller airport but is the closest. If you're ok with a bit more of a drive Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT).


Where to stay:

There are many awesome airbnbs and inn's in Lake Lure and Chimney Rock. The 1927 Lake Lure Inn and Spa is an awesome space that even has a "Patrick Swayze Suite" which is the room he stayed in while they filmed Dirty Dancing. The Esmerelda Inn is another gorgeous location that has it's own private river access for their guests.


4. Downtown Asheville

Have you ever considered an urban elopement? Asheville is an awesome city full of art, delicious food, amazing beer, and lots of places to explore in and out of the city. There are a multitude of rooftop bars, amazing architecture, and jaw dropping murals and graffiti. So if you're thinking you want something a little different, eloping in Downtown Asheville may be the perfect fit.


Accessibility:

Since there's no trails to hike on choosing to elope in downtown is extremely accessible. You can reach everywhere by car and everything is fully paved.


Permit Requirements:

It varies. If you are opting for a rooftop bar or a private event space there will be some sort of rental fee. In general though to take photos throughout the city there are no permit requirements 😊


Best time of year to get married in Downtown Asheville:

Really anytime is a great time. If you're trying to avoid some crowds opting for one of the less touristy times of year would be your best bet, which would be middle of winter through Spring (usually January to May). There is a boom in tourism from the summer months, through all the leaf peeping in fall, and through Christmas (Christmas at the Biltmore is truly magical).


What to do nearby:

  • Visit the Biltmore. It is truly an awe inspiring place. It is a huge house, the largest single family house in the US in fact, and the grounds are also amazing with an entire vineyard, multiple gardens, miles of trails, and full on farm. It's a great place to visit for a day.

  • Go to one of the many, many breweries. Asheville is #2 in the countries for the amount of breweries per capita. They are literally everywhere. Some of my favorites in downtown are Burial Beer Co., Bhramari Brewing, and New Belgium Brewing.

  • Float the river. In the summer months you can float the French broad river and enjoy a few beverages along the way. You can even get out at New Belgium Brewing and enjoy a beer before getting back in your tube. There are multiple companies who offer tube rentals and shuttle services.

  • Go check out some art! The rivers art district is full of art galleries and amazing graffiti. It is definitely worth taking a day to walk throughout the galleries and explore around.


Where to fly into:

Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) it is definitely a smaller airport but is the closest. If you're ok with a bit more of a drive Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT).


Where to stay:

There are a variety of awesome airbnbs as well as plenty of hotels to choose from in Asheville. If you're looking for a more luxurious experience The Omni Grove Park Inn or the Inn on Biltmore Estate are both gorgeous. If you want proximity to downtown the AC Hotel is also awesome.




I hope this post has given you some inspiration for an awesome place to elope in the ol' WNC. As always if you have any questions about anything I'm happy to help 😊


Cheers!

Amy


Some more photo inspiration 😉


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