How to Elope in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is super underrated! This how to elope in Joshua Tree NP guide should help you plan your unique ceremony in one of the amazing locations here. This southern California National Park is not as famous as Yosemite or the Redwoods and Giant Sequoias. But the unique landscape is not to be missed. I absolutely love exploring new deserts. Visiting Joshua Tree has been a dream of mine since I was sentient, since I’m the world’s biggest fan of U2. (the Irish band’s album ‘The Joshua Tree’ is their most popular of all time). The album was inspired by the desert southwest scenery and bluegrass music roots, although the album photography was actually done in Death Valley.

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How to elope in Joshua Tree National Park

There are 11 amazing elopement locations in Joshua Tree, and each one costs just $120 for the wedding permit. (Plus additional park permit fees for your photographer!) This could be the perfect place to elope if you love our national parks; if you like early mornings or desert sunsets; if you want your elopement photos to be unique, colorful and iconic; and if you’re ready to get sand in your dress, wind in your hair, and amazing memories in your hearts.

What are the best Joshua Tree Elopement spots?

Joshua trees are slow growing members of the yucca family. The largest ones in the park can be many hundreds of years old. These trees grow only in the Mojave desert, in California, Arizona and Mexico. In the spring their white flowers dominate the landscape. Split Rock, Quail Springs, and Lost Horse elopement areas all have similar views. These trailheads, picnic areas, and campgrounds are all beautiful, with Joshua Tree’s distinctive trees stretching to the rock pile horizon. Additionally, the Live Oak picnic area has a mature oak tree that provides valuable shade. All four of these spots are located in the central, most popular area of the park. However, none of these parking lots are very big, so small elopements are perfect here. Any of them would make a perfect place for an adventurous elopement in Joshua Tree National Park. Barker Dam is one of my favorites!

Cap Rock & Keys View

The Cap Rock elopement location in JTNP is a picnic area at a large rock formation. It is closest to one of my favorite spots in the park, Keys view. After a long drive, you’ll get to a huge vista over sprawling Palm Springs and the valley below. It’s the biggest view in the park, so if you want mountains, this is a must do! It is totally incredible at sunset – and check out this 360 view! Shrikes, scrub jays, phainopepla, vultures and hawks are common here.

Queen’s Mine Elopement Location

Consider eloping at Queen’s Mine if you are an off-road loving couple! This is one of my favorite areas of the park. The dusty, unmaintained dirt roads make everything feel like a bit more of an adventure. It’s also the only place in the park where the snow capped peak of San Gorgonio is visible. There are some great hikes among the rocks. Best of all, nobody seems to venture up here! Can you imagine having this rocky canyon and view all to yourselves? This is why I love being your Joshua Tree elopement guide!

South Joshua Tree Elopement Locations

The Turkey Flats and Porcupine Wash elopement sites are in the south east part of the park, closest to the Cottonwood Visitor Center entrance. Apart from the spring super bloom of the most beautiful desert wildflowers you’ll ever see, these areas are rather barren at all other times of the year. However, the spectacular La Cholla cactus garden is nearby, and was one of my personal favorite areas of the entire park! Most of the plants in the park are extremely spiky/out to kill you, as I found out when I stuck my hand into one to collapse my tripod legs, and thus I spent the next half hour pulling microscopic spines out of my hands. Don’t be a dummy like me.. don’t touch anything!

Camp in Joshua Tree

For a true Joshua Tree Experience, you have to snag a campsite within the park. The stars and the moonlight here are unbelievable, and photos just don’t do it justice. You truly have to experience it yourself. There’s a magic of the night in the desert, when much of the wildlife comes alive (I’m looking at you, owls & coyotes!) and you can walk among the eerie, towering joshua trees in the calm darkness. You can elope at Hidden Valley in Joshua Tree – and you might even get lucky like I did and see a wild bobcat!

North Joshua Tree Elopement Locations

The Indian Cove campground amphitheater is the only elopement location in Joshua Tree National Park with built in seating, as it faces a ranger talk stage backed by an adobe shed. The final elopement location, the Rattlesnake Canyon picnic area next to Indian Cove, is accessed from the north border of the park. Because this area is less visited, you may have more privacy as you walk around the rock piles.

When to Elope in Joshua Tree National Park

Sunrise and sunset are the best times of day in any desert, and Joshua Tree is no exception. The valleys light up gold and orange and the milder temperatures are a welcome relief from the heat of the day. How incredible is this light!?! You should definitely consider having your ceremony at sunrise – trust your Joshua Tree elopement guide! You have the best chance of wildlife viewing at dawn as well!

Joshua Tree Elopement Rules

All national parks differ in what they allow for elopements. Joshua Tree allows you to have champagne, cake, an arch, and some decor. You can truly make your elopement location your own! Leave No Trace policies apply. And of course drones, smoke bombs, confetti, balloons, rice, birdseed, or open flames are not permitted. If you’re considering eloping in Joshua Tree National Park, check out the park website for the application and additional rules. Before you apply, I encourage you to get in touch with me for guidance on which location might be right for you. I would love to be your photographer and your Joshua Tree elopement guide! I can’t wait to show you all my favorite spots around this desert paradise!

I’ve built a custom elopement map for Joshua tree to give you a visual of all the sites where you can elope! Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me to make it interactive!

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San Diego

After JTNP, my husband and I continued on to visit San Diego. We were fortunate enough to see sharks, rays, skates, seals, guitarfish, dolphins, Girabaldi, sea lions and a cell phone while snorkeling in the ocean. That’s right- we found someone’s cell phone, in a waterproof bag! It still had 60% battery power, but it was locked. Just as we were about to turn it in, I noticed a missed call. I immediately put the name into facebook and only one name came up! I messaged her and just 45 minutes later, we met up with the SWEETEST couple ever. We chatted for a while and found out we both live in the. same. town. back home in Colorado!! Hello new friends! San Diego is just a few hours’ drive from Joshua Tree, so if you love the ocean, this is the perfect nearby city for you!

One Comment

  1. Your Joshua Tree photos are gorgeous! What beautiful shots – I’m in awe.

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