Bride and groom stand in the middle of Joshua Trees on a rock at sunset inside a national park.

The Joshua Tree Wedding & Elopement Guide – Everything You Wanted to Know!

Located in the Mojave Desert, Joshua Tree is an amazing elopement location in the desert if you love unique desert landscapes & unique desert plants. Joshua Tree is a special place that is ideal for all sorts of elopements, whether you want something chill & family friendly, or something super adventurous like climbing or biking. A Joshua Tree elopement can be as mild or as wild as you want it to be! As a Joshua Tree elopement photographer, I’m here to help you in knowing the best places to elope in Joshua Tree, what you can expect as far as weather, & have all sorts of ideas to share for how to make your day special! Planning a wedding in Joshua Tree can take a lot of work, & hiring a wedding photographer that helps with locations & the planning process (like me!) can help take some of the load off of you.

How to Elope in Joshua Tree National Park

To elope in Joshua Tree National Park you will need a special use permit from the park, a ceremony location, & will need to set a date! Booking a specialized Joshua Tree elopement photographer can be of great help in making decisions for your Joshua Tree wedding or elopement. To help you know where to go in the park & the best times to elope in Joshua Tree is just part of what I’m here for. I can help with vendors, lodging, ideas for your day, & so much more!

Why You Should Get Married in Joshua Tree

If you’re considering eloping, Joshua Tree National Park is a beautiful & unique desert setting for your elopement day. Here are a few reasons why you might want to choose this national park in southern California for your elopement…

  • The natural beauty of Joshua Tree National Park. The park is home to a unique ecosystem of Joshua trees, yucca plants, & towering rock formations. It’s a truly beautiful setting for your elopement. If you like golds, metallic accents, & modern decor, Joshua Tree goes really well with all of that!
  • A wedding or elopement in Joshua Tree National Park is an opportunity to have a truly intimate & personalized wedding. Without the distractions of a large wedding, you & your partner can focus on what really matters – your love for each other. Joshua Tree National Park is a popular place, however, there are plenty of little spots I can direct you to where you can find more seclusion.
  • Getting married in Joshua Tree National Park allows you to have a destination wedding without the hassle of traveling abroad. The park is just a couple hours’ drive from Los Angeles, making it easily accessible for couples who live in Southern California or if you’re traveling in from another area & want to fly into a larger airport in southern California.
  • Joshua Tree National Park offers a range of beautiful outdoor desert locations for your wedding ceremony & elopement photos. From secluded rocky coves to sweeping vistas at higher elevations, there’s a spot in the park that’s perfect for your elopement in the southern California desert.
  • Getting married in Joshua Tree National Park through the special use permit is a good way to support the National Park Service & help preserve & share this beautiful natural space for future generations. You’ll also be able to come back to Joshua Tree for years to come to remember the special day you had here.

Consider eloping in Joshua Tree National Park for its unique & beautiful desert settings, intimate atmosphere, & accessibility. It’s a perfect choice for if you want a one-of-a-kind elopement or wedding in the desert that you’ll remember forever! It is also a great winter elopement location with its more mild desert climate.

When Should You Elope & Get Married in Joshua Tree National Park?

Joshua Tree National Park is located in the desert of southern California & the rocky landscape can retain a lot of heat from the day. I strongly discourage you from eloping here during the summer months! If you’re wanting a summer elopement, head north into places like the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California or even into Colorado. The best months to elope in Joshua Tree are from October through April. From mid fall, winter, & into early spring is the best time to elope in Joshua Tree National Park. If you do plan a summer elopement, be sure to plan for the heat, drink lots of water, & if possible, I definitely recommend planning on getting married at sunrise in Joshua Tree. You’ll not only avoid the heat but also avoid the crowds. You could even book an Airbnb in Palm Springs with a pool & jump in afterward! Sounds like a fun way to end your Joshua Tree wedding day if you ask me.

Elopement Locations in Joshua Tree National Park & Wedding Ceremony Spots

Joshua Tree National Park has 11 different designated elopement ceremony locations. Jeannie Wilson is the main contact for the park & is in charge of the special use permits. You can contact the park on their website. When you fill out the special use permit for a wedding ceremony in Joshua Tree National Park, you’ll need to fill out the permit for times & locations you want. It can be hard to navigate all this, but that’s what I’m here for as your Joshua Tree wedding & elopement photographer!

As a wedding & elopement photographer, I personally love Hidden Valley, Turkey Flats, & Cap Rock are my top favorite wedding & elopement locations in Joshua Tree National Park!

Joshua Tree Wedding Ceremony & Photography Permits

Joshua Tree National Park requires permits for elopements, weddings, & ceremonies. The cost of the special use permit is $120 & all ceremonies require a permit regardless of the size of the event or amount of people. Only you as a couple need a permit, going forward in 2023, one wedding photographer is covered under your special use permit. (For updates on this, follow Public Land Creatives who are working with the park to make permit regulations more transparent.) Other vendors such as a caterer providing commercial services coming into the park may need a separate permit.

Remember to Leave No Trace When You Get Married in Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree National Park elopements & weddings must follow the guidelines set forth by the park & must follow leave no trace. There are certain things that Joshua Tree does allow & certain things that are off limits. But please please remember, Joshua Trees are endangered & sensitive & the park wants to protect them. Please please please DO NOT hang anything or lean anything on a Joshua Tree ever! In fact, it’s best to just not touch these desert plants at all.

The desert can seem like a harsh place with tough plants & animals that live here, but it really is a sensitive environment. We have to do our best to not upset the sensitive balance that exists here in Joshua Tree. Stick to established trails or durable surfaces & watch out for crypto soil. Dogs & other pets are not allowed in most parts of the park except for campgrounds or roads, they are not allowed on any trails.

Things that are allowed at your Joshua Tree National Park wedding or elopement… you can have an arch or other ceremony or alter decor as long as it is free standing (no staking it into the ground, leaning it on rocks, or hanging from rocks or trees). You’re also allowed to have something like a small table for a guest book or gifts, a cooler with water, battery-powered candles, a runner for decor, or a rug. Live flowers or fake flowers are allowed. And you can also bring cake or champagne to celebrate! As a Joshua Tree wedding photographer, I love that the park allows you to bring in decor like this. Just remember to keep it simple & if you need ideas, I’m here to help.

Things that are NOT allowed at your Joshua Tree National Park wedding or elopement… Drones are not allowed anywhere for any reason within the park. Traditional candles with an open flame are not allowed. Things like bubbles, confetti, rice, birdseed, or balloons are also not allowed. You cannot have live animals or do any sort of dove or butterfly release. Smoke bombs, fireworks, & sparklers are also not allowed. And while other florals are ok, the park has made a recent change that no dried florals are allowed in the park.

Joshua Tree Wedding & Elopement Locations Outside of the National Park

There are elopement locations outside of the national park as well. The dry lake bed just outside of Joshua Tree National Park has some unique views along with lots of camping & places to have a campfire. There are off-roading routes that can take you into other areas thick with Joshua Trees in some more mountainous terrain & get you away from the busy park areas. Want help finding a more remote location for more privacy? Contact me! As a Joshua Tree wedding & elopement photographer, I’m here to help couples find locations that are hidden gems off the beaten path for your best day ever. Having a Utah elopement is also a great place if you like deserts!

Best Places to Stay Around Joshua Tree for Your Wedding

In my opinion, look no further than the Joshua Tree House! They have The Joshua Tree House & the Casita available for you to rent out & stay at. These intentionally designed & decorated spaces are meant for relaxation in the desert. The neutral colors also photograph very well, making them ideal places to stay at for your wedding or elopement in Joshua Tree. Take portraits here, getting ready photos, or even host a small dinner at these places to end your wedding day.

The Joshua Tree House has 2 bedrooms & 2 bathrooms. It is located close to downtown. The Casita has 2 bedroom & 1 bed, & is located a bit further out into the countryside. The prices range from $250-$500 a night depending on the day & the season.

If you want a luxury glamping experience for your Joshua Tree elopement, definitely check out AutoCamp Joshua Tree! Nightly prices begin at around $250 depending on the dates & the season. It’s a beautiful place to stay & is close to some of the main entrances of the park.

Other Things to Do in Joshua Tree

The Joshua Tree area has more to do & see than just the national park. Twentynine Palms, the town of Joshua Tree, Yucca Valley, & Palm Springs all have a variety of restaurants, shops, & attractions for you to explore. Take some time & explore the little places around. I absolutely love checking out all the shops & supporting local artisans who sell their handmade crafts. There are also a number of cool local coffee shops & great places to eat!

If you’re adventurous, then of course you’ve probably heard about the climbing in Joshua Tree National Park. Classic climbs like The Eye can be fun to do. Even if you aren’t experienced with climbing, you can hire a guide to teach you & take you on some beginner climbs in the park.

Getting Married in California & California Marriage Licenses

In California, you need a valid marriage license & to have a ceremony officiated by a person authorized to perform weddings in the state. You & your partner must both be at least 18 years old, & not currently married to anyone else. If either of you is under 18, you will need the consent of a parent or guardian. You will also need two witnesses to sign the marriage license after the ceremony.

To get a marriage license in California, you & your partner will need to visit a county clerk’s office together & apply for the license in person or you can apply online. You will need to bring identification, such as a driver’s license or passport, & pay a fee. You may be asked to provide proof of your name, age, & relationship status. Once you have completed the application process, the clerk will issue you a marriage license, which is typically valid for 90 days. Once the signed license is returned to the county clerk, your marriage will be legally recognized.

About Your Joshua Tree Wedding & Elopement Photographer

Hey there! My name is Malachi & I help couples plan all sorts of adventurous elopements & outdoor weddings in national parks across the U.S. I love hearing about your story & what you’re wanting from your day to help you create an epic celebration in the great outdoors. As a Joshua Tree wedding photographer, I am here for more than just photography. Ask me about how I can help with permits, location scouting, planning, & more!

Want to talk about an elopement or wedding around Joshua Tree? Contact me & let’s start talking about ideas for your day!


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