Wild Pack Raft Elopement in Alaska Among Icebergs

Are you ready to elope your life?

Let’s create a day for you that’s wild, bold, and full of fun in a dramatic landscape!

sam@samstarns.com @samstarns

Birthdays are important to Katie & Zach (hang with me here for a minute). They celebrate their and loved ones’ birthdays by grabbing tacos, and Zach even proposed on a particular birthday.

The National Park Service’s birthday, August 25th.

They met while working as canoe guides for day-long and overnight adventures and wanted to incorporate that, as well as the NPS birthday into their elopement.

So we spent August 25th in Alaska, on the boundary line of Kenai Fjords National Park, with a pack raft elopement among icebergs and touching mountain peaks by helicopter. Those mountain peaks, overlooking Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords, are where Katie & Zach said, “I do”.


But wait, the fun didn’t just start and stop on August 25th! K&Z had two days captured. The first day, we took a ferry out to an island in Resurrection Bay, where we met SCUBA divers who were exploring a shipwreck, and all of us got drenched by the rain. This awesome couple decided to embrace the rain and were up for jumping into the water when I suggested it! Don’t worry, we warmed up afterward by grabbing a hot lunch in Seward.


Their pack raft elopement day started off in their adorable cabin, named after the owner’s dog, Kobuk. We made our way to Marathon Helicopters, where our pilot Mike was waiting to whisk us away to one of my favorite places. I’m not gonna lie, the weather had been iffy for weeks, but with a little manifestation and our willingness to be flexible, we managed to avoid essentially all precipitation.

Iceberg, ahead!

Our first stop for their pack raft elopement was an iceberg lagoon at the toe of a glacier that originates in Kenai Fjords. I was dropped off first and set up pack rafts, while Mike went back to retrieve Katie & Zach. But before we landed, we had to deter a black bear that was in the vicinity of the landing zone! I’ve been to the lagoon and stayed overnight before so I knew my way around, and with some bear spray and a pack raft, I was prepared to handle the bear if he decided I looked interesting!

While the marine layer socked us in, the lagoon and icebergs were still mesmerizing. Some were easily visible, up close to the shore. Others were looming, just barely in view through the mist. In the quiet, you can hear icebergs calving from the glacier and rolling in the lagoon. PRO TIP: pack rafting in iceberg lagoons isn’t a walk in the park. It often requires a heli or boat transport and knowledge of how unpredictable icebergs can be. It’s never a good idea to get very close to them and it’s crucial to be aware of how much of the berg is underwater (potentially right below you!). Ice chunks can calve off bergs at any time and bergs can roll, causing waves and can crush you if they’re tall and you’re in their path. Make sure you go with someone who is aware of the area and how/where to go safely.

Katie & Zach’s heirloom album turned out gorgeous, as always!


After our paddle, we ascended almost to the clouds to a bowl glacier nearby. The green knolls overlooking the glacier and Resurrection Bay were the perfect pristine backdrop for Katie and Zach’s ceremony. They read letters from loved ones, shared vows, and made their three-fingered Scout’s promise to each other, harkening back to how they met.

And of course, we capped it off with some dinner in Seward at the Gold Rush Bistro! Katie and Zach were quite the hit walking around downtown Seward, with congratulatory wishes galore.

See their elopement day in images below:


Mahins Bridal
Lana Anderson Makeup
Yarrow & Co. Florals
Zudy’s Cafe
Marathon Helicopters