Portraits and Elopements in The Huron-Manistee National Forest

couple getting married in the huron-manistee national forest

The Huron-Manistee National Forest is a combined forest located in the state of Michigan, United States. It is actually made up of two separate national forests—the Huron National Forest and the Manistee National Forest—which were administratively combined in 1945 for efficient management purposes. Covering a vast area of approximately 978,906 acres (1,529 square miles or 3,965 square kilometers), the Huron-Manistee National Forest is managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

couple getting married in the huron-manistee national forest

Huron National Forest

The Huron National Forest encompasses about 438,584 acres (685 square miles) in northeastern Michigan. It is named after Lake Huron, one of the Great Lakes bordering the eastern edge of the forest. The forest is characterized by rolling hills, sandy soils, numerous lakes, and diverse vegetation. It offers a variety of recreational activities such as camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing, and more. The Au Sable River, designated as a National Wild and Scenic River, flows through the Huron National Forest, providing opportunities for water-based activities.

Manistee National Forest

The Manistee National Forest covers approximately 540,322 acres (844 square miles) in western Michigan. It is named after the nearby Manistee River, another designated National Wild and Scenic River. The forest is known for its scenic beauty, including dense forests, rolling hills, and numerous rivers and streams. Outdoor enthusiasts can engage in activities like camping, hiking, fishing, canoeing, bird watching, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing. The Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness, located within the Manistee National Forest, offers unique coastal dune ecosystems and stunning views of Lake Michigan.

Both forests are home to diverse plant and animal species, including white-tailed deer, black bears, bald eagles, wild turkeys, and various songbirds. Visitors can explore the forests through an extensive network of trails, including portions of the North Country National Scenic Trail that passes through the area.

couple getting married in the huron-manistee national forest

Picturesque Locations

The Huron-Manistee National Forest offers several picturesque locations that can serve as ideal spots for elopements, providing couples with intimate and breathtaking settings for their special day. Here are a few notable locations within the forest:

Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness

Located in the Manistee National Forest, the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness offers stunning views of Lake Michigan and encompasses a unique coastal dune ecosystem. The vast expanse of sandy dunes, combined with the backdrop of the lake, creates a beautiful and secluded setting for an elopement ceremony.

Au Sable River

The Huron National Forest is home to the Au Sable River, a designated National Wild and Scenic River. This picturesque river is surrounded by lush forests and offers tranquil settings for elopements. Consider finding a quiet spot along the riverbank or utilizing one of the numerous small islands or sandy bars for a memorable ceremony.

Loda Lake Wildflower Sanctuary

Located in the Huron National Forest, the Loda Lake Wildflower Sanctuary is a hidden gem that boasts diverse wildflower displays during the spring and summer months. The sanctuary’s serene atmosphere and vibrant colors provide a magical backdrop for an elopement ceremony surrounded by nature’s beauty.

Manistee River

The Manistee River, flowing through the Manistee National Forest, is another remarkable location for an elopement. Its crystal-clear waters, scenic riverbanks, and surrounding forest create a romantic and enchanting atmosphere. Consider finding a quiet spot along the river to exchange vows or even embark on a canoe or kayak elopement adventure.

Highbanks Trail and Overlook

For couples seeking panoramic views, the Highbanks Trail and Overlook in the Manistee National Forest is a great choice. The trail leads to a dramatic overlook of the Manistee River Valley, providing a breathtaking backdrop for an intimate elopement ceremony with sweeping vistas of the surrounding forest and river.

couple getting married in the huron-manistee national forest

Making it Happen

Getting married in the Huron-Manistee National Forest can be a unique and memorable experience for nature-loving couples. However, it’s important to note that the national forest is a public land managed by the U.S. Forest Service, and there are certain guidelines and regulations to follow when planning a wedding or any other event in the forest. Here are some general considerations:

Permits and Permissions

Depending on the size and nature of your wedding, you may need to obtain a special use permit or permission from the U.S. Forest Service. This is especially true if you plan to have a larger gathering, set up structures or decorations, or have amplified music. Contact the local ranger district office that oversees the specific area where you wish to get married to inquire about the requirements and any associated fees.

Learn more about the passes and permits here!

Choosing a Location

The Huron-Manistee National Forest offers a variety of scenic locations that can serve as beautiful backdrops for your wedding ceremony. Consider areas near lakes, rivers, or picturesque meadows. Research the available sites within the forest and discuss options with the Forest Service to ensure your chosen location aligns with their regulations and guidelines.

Logistics and Accessibility

Keep in mind the logistics of hosting a wedding in a natural setting. Consider the accessibility of the chosen location for your guests, especially if you have elderly or mobility-limited attendees. Plan for parking, restroom facilities (which may be limited in remote areas), and other practical considerations. Prepare a contingency plan in case of inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstances.

Leave No Trace Principles

As responsible stewards of the forest, it is important to follow the principles of Leave No Trace. This means respecting and preserving the natural environment by minimizing your impact. Clean up after your event, properly dispose of waste, and avoid damaging vegetation or wildlife habitat.

Local Regulations and Restrictions

Be aware of any specific regulations or restrictions in the area where you plan to get married. These may include rules regarding noise, open fires, alcohol consumption, and other factors. Ensure that you and your guests adhere to all applicable guidelines to maintain the natural integrity of the forest and ensure everyone’s safety.

Remember to check with the U.S. Forest Service for the most up-to-date information and specific guidelines for hosting a wedding in the Huron-Manistee National Forest. By planning responsibly and respecting the natural environment, you can have a beautiful and memorable wedding surrounded by the scenic wonders of the forest.

Let’s connect today to discuss your National Forest session!

May 26, 2023

Aliscia Marie Photography

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