How to Elope in Joshua Tree: A Guide [Updated for 2024]

January 11, 2024

Eloping in Joshua Tree National Park can be a magical and unique experience. The park’s otherworldly landscape, with its iconic Joshua trees, rugged rock formations, and stunning desert vistas, provides a breathtaking backdrop for an unforgettable elopement. In this extensive guide, I’ll cover everything you need to know to plan an elopement in Joshua Tree, including permit requirements, top venues, accommodations, specific locations for your ceremony, weather considerations, and a sample elopement timeline.

Table of Contents

Specific Locations to Get Married Within the Park

Joshua Tree National Park offers a variety of stunning locations for your elopement ceremony. Not uncommon with National Parks, Joshua Tree has a set list of approved locations. These are mostly intended for very intimate gatherings, with only one location allowing up to 100 people (though your guests must be shuttled to this location).

Please note that Joshua Tree National Park does not allow exclusive use of any area and there will be regular visitor activity during your ceremony. However, people are generally super kind and tend to leave space for couples who are getting married!

Check out their approved locations:

Indian Cove Amphitheater No more than 100 people total and only 1 vehicle. You must hire a shuttle for your guest to this location. The park does not provide transportation. (Location not available June 1-August 31)
Hidden Valley Picnic Area No more than 35 people total and up to 8 vehicles.
Turkey Flats No more than 35 people total and up to 8 vehicles.
Cap Rock No more than 25 people total and up to 8 vehicles.
Rattlesnake Picnic Area No more than 20 people and 8 vehicles.
Quail Springs Picnic Area No more than 15 people and 8 vehicles.
Split Rock No more than 15 people and 5 vehicles.
Porcupine Wash No more than 12 people and 4 vehicles.
Queen Valley Mine Intersection No more than 10 people and 5 vehicles.
Lost Horse Parking Lot No more than 10 people and 5 vehicles.
Live Oak Picnic Area No more than 5 people and 3 vehicles.

Permit Requirements for Joshua Tree National Park

If you plan to have your ceremony within Joshua Tree National Park, you will need to obtain a special use permit for your event. The permit is required for all weddings and/or ceremonies. To obtain a permit, complete a Special Use Permit Application and email it to jo****************@np*.gov. A $120 non-refundable application fee is required. Applications may take 3 weeks to review depending on the time of year. Your photographer needs a separate photo permit as well. Additionally, they don’t typically accept permit applications a year or more before the wedding. It’s important to note that the park has specific regulations for weddings and elopements, so be sure to review the guidelines and secure the necessary permit well in advance of your planned date!

Top Venues Near Joshua Tree

While Joshua Tree National Park itself offers stunning natural settings for your elopement, there are also several nearby venues that can serve as a base for your event or provide additional options for celebrating before or after your ceremony. Here are a few popular venues near Joshua Tree:

1. The Ruin Venue: This unique desert venue is located just outside the park and offers a picturesque setting with a blend of rustic charm and natural beauty.

2. Pioneer Town: This historic Western town, located near Joshua Tree, provides a one-of-a-kind setting for a themed elopement or post-ceremony celebration.

3. Sacred Sands: This intimate desert retreat offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and can serve as a tranquil setting for your elopement or accommodations for you and your guests.

Where to Stay

Joshua Tree and the surrounding area offer a range of accommodations, from hotels and motels to vacation rentals and desert retreats. Here are a few options to consider for your stay:

1. Joshua Tree Inn: This historic inn is known for its association with musician Gram Parsons and offers comfortable accommodations with a touch of rock ‘n’ roll history.

2. Airbnbs: There are numerous vacation rental options in Joshua Tree and the nearby communities, ranging from cozy desert cabins to stylish modern homes with stunning views.

3. Pioneertown Motel: Located near Joshua Tree, this retro-chic motel provides a unique lodging experience with a vintage Western vibe.

Weather Throughout the Year and Best Time to Elope

Joshua Tree experiences a desert climate, so summers are HOT, the winters are mild, and dramatic temperature fluctuations between day and night. Here’s a general overview of the weather through the year.

Spring (March to May):
Spring is a popular time for eloping in Joshua Tree, as the weather is generally mild and wildflowers may be in bloom. Daytime temperatures typically range from 70°F to 90°F (21°C to 32°C), making it a comfortable season for outdoor ceremonies. However, it’s important to note that spring can also bring occasional windstorms to the area.

Summer (June to August):
Summer in Joshua Tree is characterized by hot, dry conditions, with daytime temperatures often exceeding 100°F (38°C). While the park’s unique landscapes can still provide breathtaking backdrops for a summer elopement, it’s essential to plan for the intense heat and potential for dehydration. Early morning or evening ceremonies may be more comfortable during this season.

Fall (September to November):
Fall is another popular season for elopements in Joshua Tree. The weather begins to cool off, with daytime temperatures ranging from 75°F to 90°F (24°C to 32°C). The fall months are generally dry, and the park’s unique vegetation and rock formations can provide a stunning setting for your ceremony.

Winter (December to February):
Winter brings cooler temperatures to Joshua Tree, with daytime highs typically ranging from 60°F to 70°F (15°C to 21°C). Nighttime temperatures can drop significantly, often falling below freezing, so it’s important to plan for chilly conditions if you choose to elope during the winter months. However, the park’s stark beauty under clear winter skies can create a striking backdrop for your ceremony.

Based on the weather considerations, the best time to elope in Joshua Tree may be during the spring or fall when temperatures are milder, and the landscapes are often at their most vibrant.

Sample Elopement Timeline for a Full Day Elopement

Here’s a sample elopement timeline for a full day elopement in Joshua Tree:

– 8:00 AM: Begin the day getting ready together and allow your photographer to capture your rings, vow books, and other details at this time.
– 9:00 AM: Next, an early morning ceremony at a scenic spot within the park, such as Hidden Valley. Take advantage of the soft morning light for beautiful photos.

After the ceremony, enjoy a private breakfast or picnic at your chosen location, taking in your first morning as a married couple!

– 11:00 AM: Explore the park with your photographer, capturing intimate moments against the backdrop of Joshua Tree’s unique landscapes. Consider visiting iconic locations like Skull Rock or the Cholla Cactus Garden for stunning photo opportunities.

– 1:00 PM: Return to your accommodations or a nearby venue for a midday break and some relaxation.
– 3:00 PM: Prepare for a late afternoon or early evening portrait session, taking advantage of the warm, golden light before sunset. You can opt for a short to mid-length hike and explore more of the beauty Joshua Tree has to offer.

– 5:00 PM: Head to one last scenic spot within the park for a sunset portrait session, capturing the magic of the desert as the sun dips below the horizon.
– 6:00 PM: Conclude the day with a private dinner or celebration at a nearby venue or your accommodations, reflecting on your special day in the desert.

If you opt to elope during a new moon, you should highly consider staying in the park after dark so your photographer can capture some astrophotography portraits! Even if the moon is out, you can opt for some photos with the moon rather than the stars.

This sample timeline allows for a full day of elopement activities, from a sunrise ceremony to a sunset portrait session, while also providing time for relaxation and intimate celebration.

Joshua Tree Elopement Packages

Has this guide convinced to you elope in Joshua Tree yet?! If so, it’s time to start planning! Lucky for you, we’re a California native photo + video team ready to help you plan and document the desert elopement of your dreams!

Here’s what we offer:

  • Packages ranging from 3 hours to full day coverage
  • Digital + 35mm photographs
  • Digital + Super 8 video
  • a 90+ page elopement planning guide
  • Pre-wedding consultations
  • All travel is included

Packages start at $2600 for just photo & $4600 for photo + video

Check out our full pricing and package information here!

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