Joshua Tree Elopement Guide – Everything you need to know for 2024

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Joshua Tree Elopement Photographer

Hi, I’m Lucy, a Joshua Tree Elopement Photographer, ready to help YOU get married in this underrated National Park! I’ll walk you through everything you need to know to plan an elopement here. This could be the perfect place to elope if you love early mornings or desert sunsets. Especially if you want your elopement photos to be unique, colorful and dramatic. 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 the spring, their white flowers dominate the landscape.

11 Best Joshua Tree Elopement Locations

Joshua Tree only allows ceremonies of ANY size to take place at 11 designated locations within the park’s borders. So yes, even if you plan to elope with just the two of you, you will need to apply for an obtain an approved permit from the park to proceed. The permit cost is $120. I’ll walk you through the different ceremony sites and you’ll start to get an idea of which is best for you! Proceed if you’re ready to get sand in your wedding clothes, wind in your hair, and amazing memories in your hearts.

Group size limits for ceremonies in Joshua Tree:

Live Oak Picnic Area: Maximum 5 people and 3 vehicles.
Lost Horse Parking Lot: Maximum 10 people and 5 vehicles.
Queen Valley Mine Intersection: Maximum 10 people and 5 vehicles.
Porcupine Wash:  Maximum 12 people and 4 vehicles.**
Split Rock: Maximum 15 people and 5 vehicles.
Quail Springs Picnic Area: Maximum 15 people and 8 vehicles.
Rattlesnake Picnic Area: Maximum 20 people and 8 vehicles.
Cap Rock: Maximum 25 people total and up to 8 vehicles.
Turkey Flats: Maximum 35 people total and up to 8 vehicles.**
Hidden Valley Picnic Area: Maximum 35 people total and up to 8 vehicles.
Indian Cove Amphitheater: Maximum 100 people total and you must shuttle guests at this location.

Hidden Valley, Quail Springs and Lost Horse Elopement Locations

Hidden Valley, Quail Springs, and Lost Horse ceremony areas all have similar views and are my favorite elopement ceremony spots in Joshua Tree. These trailheads, picnic areas, and campgrounds are all beautiful, with distinctive Joshua trees stretching to the rock pile horizon. Nearby, the Live Oak picnic area has a mature oak tree that provides valuable shade. All four of these spots, plus Split Rock, are located in the central, most popular area of the park. Any of them would make a perfect place for an adventurous elopement in Joshua Tree National Park.

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?

Cap Rock & Keys View

The Cap Rock elopement location in Joshua Tree National Park 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.

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. Nearby, the Rattlesnake Canyon picnic area next to Indian Cove, is a great elopement or microwedding location. To get here, you will enter the park from the Twentynine Palms entrance and not from the main park road. Because this area is less visited, you may have more privacy as you walk around the rock piles.

South Joshua Tree Elopement Locations

The Turkey Flats and Porcupine Wash elopement sites are in the south east/central 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 to be skipped as they don’t have any Joshua Trees! However, the spectacular La Cholla cactus garden is nearby, which is one of my favorite areas of the entire park!

Here’s my custom interactive location map of Joshua Tree:

This map is a virtual self guided tour of Joshua Tree and the surrounding highlights with color photos I’ve taken of each place. So you can see all the great spots without leaving your living room. If you’re planning from afar, this is a visual key to picking out the elopement spot that works for you. Details like what seasons and time of day are best for each location are included. It will help you plan your activities, accommodations, and your day’s itinerary. Lastly, it’s easy to have a great backup location picked out with this map in front of you. Having that Plan B in your back pocket will keep your planning stress-free! I can’t share all my tips for how to elope in Joshua Tree with you!

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 Joshua Tree elopement photographer!

Where is Joshua Tree National Park?

This California National Park is in the Southeast corner of the state, near the Arizona border. It’s east of LA, south of Death Valley and the closest city is Palm Springs. You’ll want to rent a car or a campervan to get around in this park – maybe even make it a road trip!. The nearest big airports are Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas – all are between 2 and 3 hours drive away from the park entrance.

When to elope in Joshua Tree National Park?

Summers are hot as balls out here! Avoid planning an elopement in Joshua Tree from June to September when temperatures will be in the high 90’s and 100’s each day. The shoulder season months are the most temperate, with October, April and May being warm and summery. November through March temperatures will be in the high 50s to high 60s. If you’re the sort of person who sweats easily, those winter months would be perfect for you to elope in the desert of Joshua Tree National Park.

About Lucy – your Joshua Tree Elopement Photographer

I’m a colorful Joshua Tree elopement photographer with an obsession for deserts, hiking, and my embracing weird and wonderful people. My photography style emphasizes the epic desert landscape of your dreams and the unique moments that make you two.. well, you two! I love my job and my nature-loving clients. Joshua Tree is an unforgettable desert elopement location for the outdoor enthusiast. Maybe I’ll see you there!

How do we reserve our date?

Planning your Joshua Tree Elopement doesn’t have to be complicated! Follow these steps:
1. Select a season and date for your elopement
2. Make your bookings for flights, rental car and accommodation
3. Hire a Joshua Tree elopement photographer who you LOVE! Contact me below.
4. Coordinate with your photographer to decide on a ceremony location & time and apply for the ceremony permit
5. Hire additional vendors – Officiant, beauty, and florist if desired.
6. Obtain your California Marriage license and bring it and the permit with you!

Bam! You’re ready to elope in Joshua Tree National Park!

What are the best photo spots in Joshua Tree?

Outside of those 11 ceremony sites, there are tons of great locations to have your photo taken within the park. Some of my favorites are: Keys View, Palms Oasis, Barker Dam, Cholla Cactus Gardens, Keys Ranch, Skull Rock, Arch Rock and Heart rock. Some of the best places don’t have names, and are just a pull off for a couple cars. I know the spots!

Does my Photographer need a separate permit to photograph an elopement in Joshua Tree in 2024?

As of February 2023, the National Park service rolled back its requirement for portrait photographers shooting weddings and sessions with paying clients to obtain a separate photo permit because it violated federal code. So NO, a separate photography permit is not required in Joshua Tree.

Do I need an officiant to get married at Joshua Tree?

California law requires that an officiant signs your marriage license. Hiring an officiant can cost $500 to $2000 depending on how far they have to travel and how much time they’ll spend creating your ceremony. However! I’m ordained, so I can non-denominationally officiate your ceremony to make your marriage legal! Alternatively, have one of your friends or family become ordained so they can be the one to sign the paperwork. So while you do need an officiant, you don’t have to hire one. Additionally, you will need 1 witness to sign your California Marriage license to make it legal. My husband is volunteering right now, or you can ask a stranger for the honor.

Officiant Options:
– Hire a professional officiant ($500 to $2000)
– Elect for me to officiate and create your ceremony for $0
– Bring a friend who gets ordained
– Get legally married in your home state and have a non-legally binding ceremony in Joshua tree.

What to wear to your Joshua Tree Elopement?

Boho and lace style gowns with bell sleeves or long sleeves are popular styles to wear in Joshua tree, but they aren’t the only options. A form fitted jumpsuit or sleek silk silhouette would be super modern. You don’t have to wear a full tuxedo or suit, either- suspenders and slacks, an open sport coat, a print shirt or tie would all go well here. Don’t be afraid of color – whether you’re wearing a suit or dress, emerald, navy, violet, black, crimson and rust tones would all be incredible here. See more info on what to wear and inspiration pics here.

Where to stay when eloping in Joshua Tree?

The towns of Twentynine Palms and Joshua Tree are the closest to the main West entrance of the park. Those towns should be your first search when it comes to where to stay. Don’t forget to check Airbnb for unique tiny homes, villas, and modern glass sided homes in this area. I know of some incredible properties that you won’t want to leave! If you’re looking for a super luxe option, consider staying in Palm Springs. Here’s my collection of unique chic Airbnbs near Joshua Tree for you to check out!

Camping in Joshua Tree

For a truly unique Joshua Tree experience, you have to snag a campsite within the park. Maybe that means you’re spending your first night as newlyweds in a tent – super cute. Or instead you could rent a campervan if you are a bit more indoorsy. 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. The stars and the moonlight here are unbelievable, and photos don’t do it justice. You just have to experience it yourself by camping in the park! Get your reservations in advance, all the campgrounds have similar amenities.

What is the best time of day for eloping in Joshua Tree?

Sunrise and sunset are the best times of day for that golden glowy light, 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. If you seek privacy from other park visitors, you should definitely consider having your ceremony at sunrise. You have the best chance of wildlife viewing at dawn as well!

How much time do we need for a Joshua Tree Elopement?

In order to keep your day stress free and fun, don’t try to cram too much awesomeness into just a few hours. The absolute minimum you should plan for is 4 hours, which will allow you to do a ceremony, family photos and champagne if needed, and travel to a second location for romantic portraits. However, there’s so much to see and do in this park. As the light changes throughout the day, so do the landscapes, and a truly epic adventure elopement in Joshua tree is a full day. Consider two days if you are inviting family to join you or if you want to include a long hike.

Sample Joshua Tree Elopement Timeline

5:00 Get up early to look at the stars together in your campsite.
6:00 Start getting ready and travel to a first look location.
7:00 Sunrise first look & joyous portraits in the trees.
8:30 Cook pancakes on a camp stove at a picnic area.
10:00 Hike to the palms Oasis with a picnic lunch
12:00 Lunch at the beautiful palms oasis. Create a secret handshake you’ll use later.
2:00 Set up hammocks in the shadow of a rock and relax. Tell each other stories or draw each other.
4:00 Meet up with a few besties and visit skull rock and goof off.
6:15 Sunset ceremony with secret handshake at Cap Rock. Pop some Champagne, you’re married!
7:30 Stay up late having quality time with your besties and a private chef dinner at an airbnb

Joshua Tree Elopement Packages 2024

I offer Joshua Tree elopement packages including all day photography, officiating and planning services. Additional services like flowers, hair and makeup, and picnics are available as add-ons. There are no travel fees, download fees, watermarks or other hidden fees. These prices are for 2024.

2 Day Joshua Tree elopement photography – $9900

1.5 Days of Joshua Tree elopement photography – $7900

1 Full day Joshua Tree adventure elopement photography – $6900

Up to 4 hours elopement in Joshua Tree – $5500 **Only available on select 2024 dates**

Wildlife in Joshua Tree National Park

There’s actually tons of wildlife in Joshua Tree National Park! Coyotes, bobcats, grey foxes, kit foxes, mule deer and desert bighorn sheep are the big ones (rarely: bears, mountain lions, badgers and ringtailed cats too!). But don’t sleep on the little guys! There are over 15 species of bat, 25 kinds of rodent and hares, 48 reptiles & amphibians and over 250 birds that make this park home.

How much does it cost to elope in Joshua Tree?

The ceremony permit from the national park is $120 and a California marriage license is $91. Above those costs, your budget can be minimal or luxurious depending on your preference. If your elopement is doubling as your honeymoon, you can spend up to $20,000 on amazing experiences and high end accommodation here. If you’re trying to marry without the big price tag of a traditional wedding, it can be done! Here’s a sample price breakdown of an elopement in Joshua Tree.

$400 Rental Car + gas
$120 Ceremony Permit
$91 California marriage license
$500 to $5000 Your wedding outfits
$600 to $3000 4 nights accommodation from simple to the finest resorts
$6000 to $10000 elopement photographer
$0 to $2000 elopement officiant
$400 to $2000 flowers, hair and makeup if desired
=$8200 to $20600

Contact me to see if your Joshua Tree date is available!

The california coastal elopement location of Big Sur has colorful foliage, ocean views, and big mountains.

California Master Elopement Locations Guide

See my ultimate guide to all the best places to elope in California, from San Francisco to Big sur, Yosemite, Mammoth Lakes, Sequoia, the redwoods, Channel Islands, San Diego, Joshua tree and more!

See my other California Elopement Guides:
California Master Elopement Guide
– Mono Lake Elopement Guide
Redwoods Elopement Guide
– Yosemite Elopement Guide
– Sequoia & Kings Canyon Elopement Guide
– Mammoth Lakes Elopement Guide
Death Valley Elopement Guide

More Desert Elopement Guides

One Comment

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

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