Top 20 Best Places to Elope in California

A bride and groom playing in the water on their elopement day.

Table of Contents

If you’re looking for a list filled with all the best places to elope in California, you’ve come to the right place. 

California holds some of the worlds most popular elopement locations. From Yosemite National Park to the Mojave Desert, thousands of couples from all the around world visit California each year to elope within these stunning elopement destinations. It’s no surprise that California is ranked as #1 for being the most beautiful state in the US, especially when it has so many different sceneries and activities to explore. California in itself is definitely one of the best places to elope.

Not only is California one of the most beautiful states in the US, but it’s incredibly diverse and has an array of such unique places that you simply can’t see anywhere else. With huge cliffs, sandy beaches, tall redwoods, famous mountains, and so much more, you can’t go wrong with picking a place to elope within this beautiful state.

Now that you’ve decided on eloping in California, let’s talk about all the best places to elope in California.

Mountain Elopement Locations in California

Burney Falls

A bride and groom at Burney Falls on their elopement day in California.
A bride and groom at Burney Falls on their elopement day in California.

When I look at lists of all the best places to elope in California, I’m always surprised that Burney Falls doesn’t make the list. Burney Falls is located within the McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park and was nicknamed “the Eighth Wonder of the World” by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1954.

Burney Falls is 129-foot waterfall that disperses 100 million gallons of water every single day and is accessible from a 5 minute walk down a paved trail. It’s truly one of the most epic places in California you could say your vows at and deserves to be at the top of the best places to elope in California list.

When to elope at Burney Falls

The best time to elope at Burney Falls is between April and October, when the waterfall is at its peak. I recommend avoiding visiting from June to August because the falls get very crowded, especially during the middle of the day. I’ve personally been to this waterfall dozens of times, and I recommend an April, September, or October elopement if you’re wanting one without the large crowds. It also helps to elope during sunrise or sunset at a location like this one.

The falls are also open year round. They do get snow and it can be impossible to get down to the base simply due to the ice, but it can be done. This is also a great time to avoid the crowds. You can often get this entire waterfall to yourself during the winter months. If you’re wanting a winter elopement, Burney Falls is a great option.

Best features

This category title really speaks for itself. Aside from the falls themselves, there are five miles of hiking trails next to the waterfall that can be explored, and there is also a lake nearby, Lake Britton, that’s another beautiful site to check out.

What you should know

If you decide to have your ceremony at the base of the waterfall, you need to be prepared for a few things. First, it’s very slick on the rocks near the base, so wear some shoes that have good traction. Second, it’s wet (obviously), so be prepared to get a little damp on your special day. Lastly, it’s loud, so get that voice ready to scream those vows.

How to get there

The closest airport to Burney Falls is the Redding Municipal Airport. It’s about a 1 hour and 20 minute drive from the airport. However, the Redding airport is quite small. If you wanting an airport that might be easier to access, the next closest one is the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport, and is about a 2 hour and 30 minute drive to the falls.

Where to stay

If you’re into camping, Burney Falls has 102 different campsites and can accommodate RVs, trailers, and tents.

If you’re more into glamping, there are also cabins you can rent within the park. They’re insulated, but don’t come with all the necessary materials. There is also a shared restroom and shower area with the other cabin renters.

If you prefer a hotel or Airbnb, there are limited options in Burney. However, in Shingletown, a town 1 hour away, you’ll find more options. The Green Gables Motel in Burney seems to be one of the most popular options for travelers wanting to see the falls. 

Permit information

There isn’t much information about permits within the park, but because it is a state park, you’ll more than likely end up needing a permit. To contact the office and receive more information about a special use permit, you can contact the office here.

Mt. Shasta

Mt. Shasta is another one of those elopement locations that not many people know about but should. 

Mt. Shasta is located in Northern California near Redding (which is where I’m from). It’s a huge snow covered volcano that’s bordered by lakes and pine trees. It’s a popular place for skiers and snowboarders in the winter, but in the summer, it’s an incredible place to visit. With Lake Siskiyou (a lake nearby) giving you a perfect view of Mt. Shasta, it definitely deserves to be on this list of the best places to elope in California.

When to elope at Mt. Shasta

Spring or fall is the best time to elope in Mt. Shasta. It’s cool and avoids those large summer crowds. Mt. Shasta is also accessible during the winter, but it gets a ton of snow. Snow chains are required for the drive up, and you’ll feel like you’re in a winter wonderland the entire time. It truly is a beauty!

Best features

Mt. Shasta itself is the best feature, but like I stated above, the thousands of pine trees and beautiful Lake Siskiyou really make this place pop. Plus, there are tons of hikes around the area that are great for those of you looking to hike on your elopement day.

What you should know

Mt. Shasta is classified as a volcano and is potentially active, but there hasn’t been an eruption since 1786. 

How to get there

The closest international airport to Mt. Shasta is the Sacramento International Airport. It’s about a 3 hour drive to Mt. Shasta. If you’re looking for a closer airport, the Redding or Medford Airport is much closer, but they’re both also smaller and less accessible from other airports in the US.

Where to stay

Mt. Shasta has a variety of different lodging options. There are quite a few campsites near the mountain, but there also a few different hotel options as well. I recommend Best Western or Mount Shasta Resort. Mt. Shasta also has a variety of different Airbnbs you can rent as well if you want something a little more intimate for your elopement.

Permit information

If you have a wedding party of over 75 people, you’ll need to obtain a permit. However, you’ll also need a permit if you have less than 75 people and require an entry fee for your wedding. Extremely random, I know, but I recommend reading through all the rules and regulations on their website to see if you’ll need to obtain a permit or not for your elopement.

Emerald Bay State Park

Emerald Bay State Park is located in Lake Tahoe and offers some breathtaking views. It’s surrounded with greenery and waterfalls, and it’s the perfect location for an elopement or a weekend getaway. When I think of relaxation, I think of Emerald Bay.

When to elope at Emerald Bay State Park

The best time to elope in this area is during the spring, summer, or fall. I personally recommend straying away from summer because this place gets extremely popular. I also don’t recommend winter simply because of the weather. It can be super cold and rainy.

Best features

Besides the crystal blue water, Emerald Bay has a ton of fun different activities you can do. There are numerous hiking trails, places to eat, and boat rides you can go on for your elopement.

What you should know

Emerald Bay can get some snow in the winter, but the blue water looks absolutely beautiful against the stark white snow.

How to get there

You’ll want to fly into the Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Nevada then make the 1 hour and 40 minute trip to the bay. They also have a shuttle that will take you from the airport to Lake Tahoe.

Where to stay

There are a ton of different campsites around the lake, along with Airbnbs and hotels both in California and Nevada.

Permit information

From what I can find online, the permit looks to be around $100, and you’re only allowed to have 25 guests at your wedding. For more information on how to obtain a permit, contact the park office through their website.

Bishop

Bishop is one of those cities in California that hardly anyone knows about. It’s located right between Yosemite and Death Valley and is truly a hidden gem. 

With mountains, lakes, and forests nearby, this is a great place for a super laidback or very adventurous elopement. It belongs on the list of the best places to elope in California simply because of those views!

When to elope in Bishop

The best time to elope in Bishop is during the spring or fall. However, Bishop is a good place to elope year-round. If you choose to hike, I recommend spring, summer, or fall in order to avoid the snow the mountains can get. 

Best features

Bishop is known for their scenic hikes, mountains, lakes, and meadows.

What you should know

Bishop is pretty secluded, but it’s a great spot to stay if you want to visit Death Valley or Yosemite National Park.

How to get there

In order to get to Bishop, you’ll want to fly into the Fresno-Yosemite International Airport then make the 5 hour scenic drive to Bishop.

Where to stay

There are plenty of Airbnbs and hotels to stay in when you visit Bishop.

Permit information

The closest national forest to Bishop, the Inyo National Forest, requires a permit for your elopement. The permit costs $128, and you can read everything you need to know about obtaining a permit here.

Costal Elopement Locations in California

Sunset Cliffs

A bride and groom kissing at Sunset Cliffs in San Diego, California for their sunrise elopement.

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park is located in San Diego. It’s a very popular location for surfers, sunset watchers, and yoga enthusiasts. The park consists of dramatic coast lines,  sea caves, and California gray whales swimming in the distance. The park is an incredible 68-acres and is one of the best places to elope in California based on scenery and privacy. 

When to elope at Sunset Cliffs

One thing that’s great about Sunset Cliffs is the weather. In San Diego, it’s practically sunny and nice year-round. This means that in the off-season of winter, you’ll still be able to have a warm and sunny elopement without the crowds. While this place can be extremely crowded during the summer, and especially during sunset, you’re still bound to find a secluded spot for your elopement. If you really want to beat the crowds, sunrise is great option!

Best features

You can probably tell from the name that Sunset Cliffs has some pretty incredible jagged cliffs. It truly is a natural wonder. Aside from the cliffs themselves, there are numerous points to access the beach below, and the area has some incredible sea caves that can be explored. Keep in mind that most of the time, the beach is not visible due to the tide. There are multiple beach access points, and most of the beaches are rocky. It’s no wonder why this is one of the best wedding venues in San Diego.

What you should know

If you decide to have your ceremony during sunset, be prepared for some heavy traffic and limited parking. I often have to park in a neighborhood and walk down to the cliffs.

How to get there

The closest airport to Sunset Cliffs is the San Diego International Airport. With only a 10 minute drive to the cliffs, you can’t really get any closer than that!

Where to stay

There are thousands of options to choose from when staying in San Diego. From hotels and hostels, to Airbnbs and camping, you have unlimited choices to choose from. You can actually stay within the neighborhoods that border the cliffs if you’re wanting to stay somewhere super close to your elopement location.

Permit information

There are a few different parks within the Sunset Cliffs area including Luscomb’s Point, Osprey Point, and Pappy’s Point, all of which require permits to get married. These locations also only allow up to 50 people. The cost of the permit is around $187. You can find all the information and forms you’ll need for your elopement by visiting The City of San Diego website.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse

Not many people know about Pigeon Point Lighthouse. It truly is a hidden gem within California and deserves to be on this list filled with all the best places to elope in California.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse is located off the coast of California near San Jose and San Francisco. It’s one of the tallest lighthouses in America and sits right at the edge of a cliff. It’s a remote and beautiful area you have to see to believe.

When to elope at Pigeon Point Lighthouse

The best time to elope in this area is during the late spring or fall to avoid both the rain and crowds. However, you can really elope here anytime of the year you want. Because the lighthouse is on the coast, the temperature stays practically the same throughout the year.

Best features

Aside from the lighthouse itself, there are numerous beaches, dramatic cliffs, luscious greens, and numerous hiking trails.

What you should know

There is a rainy season here, and it’s pretty foggy most of the year, but that only adds to the photos.

How to get there

In order to get to the lighthouse, you’ll want to fly into the San Francisco International Airport and then make the 1 hour drive down to the lighthouse. You can also fly into the San Jose International Airport, but it’s a longer drive and not a beautiful drive on the coast like the one from San Francisco.

Where to stay

There are a few campgrounds near the lighthouse, but if you’re not wanting to camp, there are a variety of Airbnbs to choose from within the area, as well as some hotels and a hostel.

Permit information

The park does require a permit for your elopement, but there is limited information online of how much it costs. Contact the station by email or phone to find out all the information you need. You can find their contact information here.

Big Sur

Big Sur is definitely another one of those elopement locations that always seems to make the list of best places to elope in California. Big Sur is right on the coast in the middle of California and holds a ton of different state parks such as Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, and Andrew Molera State Park. It’s known for its turquoise water, dramatic cliff line, and rolling hills.

When to elope in Big Sur

Big Sur is best to visit between May and September, but just like Yosemite, this location is very popular in the summer, which is why I recommend eloping in the fall or during sunrise on a weekday if you want to beat those summer crowds. However, the weather is nice all year round and would be a great choice any month of the year. It can get a bit chilly during the winter months, but it’s nothing too bad.

Best features

Big Sur is known for the iconic McWay Falls, a waterfall that plummets 80 feet into the Pacific Ocean. Aside from this, Big Sur is known again, for those beautiful turquoise water and dramatic cliffsides. You seriously can’t go wrong with watching a sunset after exchanging vows on a cliffside in beautiful Big Sur, one of the best places to elope in California.

What you should know

If you decide to have your ceremony or take photos on the beach, definitely be prepared for high tides. Other than this, be mindful of the amount of tourists and plan with extra time to find parking and be stuck in some traffic.

How to get there

The closest airport to Big Sur is the Monterey Airport, and it’s about 45 minutes away from Big Sur. However, this airport is limited and doesn’t have a ton of airlines flying in, so I recommend flying into the San Jose International Airport. It’s about a 2 hour drive to Big Sur from here, but a majority of the drive is on the beautiful coast so it can’t be that bad, right?

Where to stay

There aren’t many lodging options within Big Sur itself, but in the neighboring towns of Carmel-By-The-Sea, Carmel Valley, and Monterey, you’ll find a ton of different hotels and Airbnbs that you can stay in.

If you’re more of a camper, there are plenty of campsites within the parks of Big Sur. In fact, the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park has its own campground and has been nicknamed “little Yosemite” due to its variety of hiking trails, large trees, and wildlife.

Permit information

Big Sur requires you to have a permit to elope, and it can be submitted up to 6 months before your elopement. Big Sur does have very specific guidelines for obtaining a permit and what qualifies as an elopement. For example, you can’t have more than 10 guests, seating, or vendors besides a photographer, officiant, and planner. The permit costs $300. You can read all about the requirements and learn more about the fees here.

Patrick's Point

Patrick’s Point is a state park located near Trinidad in Northern California. It’s right along the coast and is surrounded with lush forest. It’s very similar to the Oregon and Washington coast with lots of fog and greenery. There are dozens of hiking trails and sea lions to check out. Plus, it kind of reminds me of the Isle of Skye in Scotland, but just in California.

When to elope at Patrick's Point

Patrick’s Point isn’t a super well known location, making any time of the year a great time for an intimate ceremony. Because Patrick’s Point is on the coast, the weather is consistently around 55-65 degrees, making it a more chilly location for an elopement. It does get lots of rain in the winter, so keep that mind, but regardless of all the rain, it’s still one of the best places to elope in California, hands down.

Best features

Patrick’s Point is known for its luscious forest, towering redwoods, fog, ocean blue water, and dramatic cliff sides. There are also multiple hiking trails areas to explore in one of California’s most beautiful state parks.

What you should know

Patrick’s Point gets an average of 56 inches of rain a year during the winter months, higher than the US average of 38 inches, so if you’re not wanting any rain during your elopement, consider eloping here during the summer.

At Patrick’s Point, there are various ceremony locations that have different maximum occupancies. For example, one of the most iconic locations, Wedding Rock, only allows 25 people in total. You can look at all the ceremony sites and information here.

How to get there

The closest airport to Patrick’s Point is the Arcata-Eureka Airport. However, this airport is very small and only has a limited amount of flights. If you’re looking for a larger airport, I recommend the Medford Airport. While it’s still a smaller airport, you might have better accessibility to it. The drive from Medford to Patrick’s Point is about 4 hours. You can even fly into the Redding Airport and then make the 3 hour drive from there.

Where to stay

There are tons of different lodging options near Patrick’s Point. You can go camping, stay in a nearby hotel, or rent an Airbnb. There are over 300 options for Airbnbs near Patricks Point. 

There are also a variety of different hotels, along with bed and breakfasts like The Lost Whale Inn. It’s a great place to stay for a romantic getaway or honeymoon during your elopement.

Permit information

A permit to elope at Patrick’s Point costs $250 and can be obtained by calling the park office. You can find all the contact and pricing information for the park here.

Catalina Island

Catalina Island is definitely one of the best places to elope in California. 

Catalina Island is an absolutely beautiful area filled with beaches, palm trees, and fun activities to do. It’s right near Long Beach and is a perfect place for a romantic elopement and honeymoon. It’s remote and almost feels like a little slice of Hawaii in California.

When to elope at Catalina Island

Like almost all other locations, the spring and fall are best times to visit this beautiful island to avoid both the crowds and rainy weather.

Best features

Catalina Island is an entire beauty in itself. It’s best known for its sunny beaches, frequent wildlife, hiking trails, ziplines, and harbors. 

What you should know

After it rains, the island can get quite muddy and sticky making driving difficult sometimes. During the winter, the boat ride to the island can be quite choppy depending on the weather.

How to get there

The main way to get to the island is by boat. Fly into the Long Beach Airport or Los Angeles International Airport (Long Beach is recommended) and then you’ll want to take the Catalina Express boat from Long Beach. There are a few other harbors and different methods to get to the island, including on a helicopter! Check out everything you need to know about how to get to Catalina Island here.

Where to stay

Catalina Island has a variety of different resorts, hotels, and Airbnbs for your elopement. I recommend checking out the Airbnbs. They definitely have some unique and romantic options.

Permit information

Catalina Island does require a permit, but fees differ depending on the location, amount of guests, etc. Be sure to check out everything you need to know about obtaining a permit here.

Fort Bragg

Fort Bragg is a smaller town on the coast of California right between Sacramento and Redding, and it’s one of the most beautiful places in California (in my opinion) that deserves to be on this list of the best places to elope in California.

Fort Bragg is surrounded with dramatic cliffs, beautiful beaches, and giant forests. With this area not being as well known as the other coastal town in California, it makes a great place to elope.

When to elope in Fort Bragg

The weather in Fort Bragg is pretty consistent year-round, but the best time to elope is from spring to fall in order to avoid the rainy season during winter.

Best features

Fort Bragg is known for the iconic Glass Beach, costal trails, botanical gardens, cliffside views, and beaches.

What you should know

Fort Bragg can be very foggy and misty in the mornings, so a sunrise elopement might not be the most ideal if you want the coast in the background of your photos. However, it’s great if you want your images to have the Pacific Northwest feel.

How to get there

To get to Fort Bragg, fly into the Santa Rosa Airport, then make the 2 hour and 20 minute drive to Fort Bragg. You can also fly into the Sacramento International Airport, then make the 3 hour and 40 minute drive from there.

Where to stay

Besides camping, there are a ton of different Airbnbs and hotels you can choose from that are all along the coast and give you some pretty epic views of the ocean.

Permit information

I had a difficult time finding permit information. From my research, it looks like you might not need one. However, I recommend getting in contact with the City of Fort Bragg and inquiring about permits for your elopement, just in case.

San Francisco

San Francisco is probably my favorite big in California and definitely deserves to be on the list of the best places to elope in California. 

From the Golden Gate Bridge to Pier 39, you truly do have endless venues to choose from. Whether you want a city or beach elopement, San Francisco has everything and more you’re looking for.

When to elope in San Francisco

San Francisco weather is very similar year-round. Although it rains during the winter, it’s still a great time to elope. If you’re wanting warmer weather, I would personally go during the summer. If you don’t mind the cold and want to avoid the crowds, spring or fall is a great option as well.

Best features

Where do I even start? San Francisco is known for its famous Golden Gate Bridge, downtown area, Pier 39, beaches, and so much more. It will take you days to explore everything the city has to offer.

What you should know

San Francisco has lots of traffic and lots of fog, so be prepared and plan ahead with a ton of extra time in between things.

How to get there

Simply fly into the San Francisco International Airport and you’re there! San Francisco has every type of transportation possible which is very nice if you don’t feel like driving in traffic yourself.

Where to stay

You can choose between any kind of lodging your heart desires. From downtown Airbnbs and hostels to 5 star hotels and resorts, you have unlimited options to choose from for your San Francisco elopement.

Permit information

This really depends on where you decide to elope. I can’t give you any exact information until you pick your elopement location.

The Lost Coast

The Lost Coast is located near Eureka in Northern California and makes the perfect backdrop to any elopement. This place is pretty remote and not very well known to the public, making it a great spot for your intimate elopement. 

When to elope at The Lost Coast

The best time to elope at The Lost Coast temperature wise is year-round. However, if you don’t want to risk the chance of rain, I recommend a summer, fall, or late spring elopement.

Best features

Part of The Lost Coast has a beach called the Black Sand Beach that is absolutely beautiful. It’s very green and there’s lots of fog, making it feel like the dreamy Pacific Northwest everyone wants to visit.

What you should know

It rains a ton near this area, and there’s also a ton of fog. If you want something a bit more moody, this is a great location for you.

How to get there

The two closest airports are the Arcata-Eureka Airport and the San Francisco International Airport. If you can find a flight, I recommend the Eureka Airport. This way, you’ll only have to drive the 1 hour and 30 minutes instead of the 5 hour drive from San Fran.

Where to stay

The Lost Coast does offer camping, but if you don’t want to camp, there are a few options for lodging. You’ll find more luck driving up to towns like Eureka or Trinidad, but if you’re wanting to stay close by, I recommend checking out the Inn of the Lost Coast.

Permit information

The permit costs $105 if you have more than 50 guests, but if you have less than 50 guests, no permit is required! Check out everything you need to know about obtaining a permit for your elopement here.

Forest Elopement Locations in California

Yosemite National Park

This one is a given. Look up any list about the best places to elope in California, and Yosemite National Park is sure to be on top. It has become a very popular area for elopements recently, and it’s no surprise why. With large valleys, dramatic viewpoints, and huge forests, it’s not hard to find that picturesque elopement location within Yosemite.

When to elope in Yosemite

Yosemite is best to visit between May and September, but keep in mind that tons of tourists flock to this area of California every year, I’m talking 5 million people every year, so if you’re interested in this elopement destination, look into either eloping within the park during late fall or early winter, or having a sunrise elopement to avoid the major crowds. The winter is limited in terms of what areas of the park you can visit, but some of the park and its valleys are still accessible with a 4WD vehicle. Plus, there are hardly any people!

Best features

Yosemite is known for its famous spots like Glacier Point, Taft Point, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and Yosemite Valley. Yosemite is filled with dramatic cliffs, huge waterfalls, lush meadows, incredible wildlife, and dense forest. All of these areas are very popular and make for a great place to elope in California.

What you should know

If you bring more than 11 people to your elopement, your options for ceremony locations within the park will be a bit limited. However, there are plenty of gorgeous spots within the park to elope at if you do have a larger crowd.

How to get there

Yosemite is pretty remote and will require some additional travel after your flight to reach the park. The closest airport to the park is the Fresno Yosemite International Airport. After arriving, you’ll want to rent a car and make the 2 – 2.5 hour drive to finally reach the park.

Where to stay

If you’re wanting a true adventure elopement experience, Yosemite does offer camping. However, these spots fill up incredibly fast. Be prepared to mark your calendars five months in advance to make a reservation. If you’re interested in camping within the park, check out the calendar to see when you’re able to reserve a spot.

If you’re not big into camping, there are a few lodging options inside and outside the park you can choose from. Within the park, there’s Yosemite Valley Lodge, The Ahwahnee, and Rush Creek Lodge. Autocamp Yosemite has also been becoming a super popular place to stay recently as well and offers cute airstreams for those of you who are more into glamping.

Outside of the park, there are a ton of Airbnb options in neighboring towns like Mariposa and Oakhurst, both about an hour outside of the park and a great option if you’re looking for something a bit cheaper than the hotels within the park.

Permit information

Yosemite requires a permit for your elopement. The permit costs $150 and must be submitted between 1 year and 21 days before your elopement. I recommend sending in the permit as soon as possible, as processing can take up to a few weeks. You can find everything you need to know about how to obtain a permit here.

Redwood National and State Parks

I couldn’t make a list about the best places to elope in California and not include Redwood National and State Parks.

The Redwoods are located in Northern California near Trinidad, and it’s undoubtedly one of the coolest places you’ll ever visit. Within the park you’ll find lush greenery, dozens of hiking trails, thick fog, and those famous redwood trees that can grow up to 120 feet high. Even if you don’t decide to elope in this beautiful area, you definitely have to visit within your lifetime.

When to elope at Redwood National and State Parks

The best time to elope in this area is during the late spring or fall to avoid both the rain and crowds. One great thing about the parks here is that they’re open 24/7, making an elopement anytime during the year possible.

Best features

Aside from the ginormous redwood trees, all these parks are filled with lush greenery, hiking trails, and close proximity to the coast.

What you should know

The Redwood National and State Parks do get quite a bit of rain during the winter and early spring, with an average of 15 days out of the month being rainy. Always check the weather and plan to elope in a season you prefer.

Ceremony sites within the park also have max capacities, and some of them are quite small. To see all the different sites and capacities, check out the list here.

How to get there

The two closest airports to the redwoods are the Arcata-Eureka Airport and the Crescent City Airport. However, both of these airports are very small and only have a limited amount of flights. If you’re looking for a larger airport, fly into the San Francisco International Airport and make the 6 hour drive to the park.

Where to stay

Besides camping, there aren’t any areas within the park to stay. The closest town is Trinidad and there, you can find a variety of different hotels and Airbnbs for your elopement.

Permit information

The park does require permits for your elopement, and the price differs based on the number of guests you have. For groups under 50, the cost of the permit is $200 and can be obtained by filling out and sending the forms found on the park’s website. The permit must be sent in no later than 30 days before your elopement, or 14 days before, if you pay the extra $100 for expedited processing.

Sequoia National Park

I couldn’t make a list about the best places to elope in California and not include Sequoia National Park.

It’s very similar to Redwoods National Park, but also has a Yosemite National Park feel to it. It has various mountains, lookouts, and fields that will make you feel as small as an ant, especially if you stand next to those huge Sequoias.

When to elope at Sequoia National Park

The best time to elope in this area is during the late spring or fall to avoid both the rain and crowds. It’s often snowy and dangerous to visit in the winter. You can also elope here in the summer, but the crowds are very present during this time.

Best features

Aside from the ginormous sequoia trees, all these parks are filled with lush greenery, hiking trails, mountains, wildlife, meadows, and caves.

What you should know

The park does get quite a bit of rain and snow during the winter and early spring. The temperatures during the winter reach around 36 degrees and doesn’t start warming up until around May.

There are also designated spots for elopement ceremonies, and the park has some rules about what you can and can’t do in the park during your wedding. Check out all the rules here.

How to get there

To get to the park, you’ll want to fly into the Fresno Yosemite International Airport then make the 1 hour and 30 minute drive to the park.

Where to stay

Besides camping, there aren’t any areas within the park to stay. The closest town is Three Rivers, and there, you’ll find a variety of different Airbnbs and hotels to choose from.

Permit information

The permit for the park costs $50, and it can be obtained by filling out the application on the park website.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park is one of the lesser known national parks in California, but it definitely shouldn’t be.

Lassen Volcanic National Park is comparative to Yellowstone National Park, just with less people and more forest. It’s definitely one of those places to have to see to believe and for sure belongs on the list of best places to elope in California. It offers incredible views of Lassen Peak and has various volcanos that make for an epic elopement backdrop.

When to elope at Lassen Volcanic National Park

The best time to elope in this area is during the late spring, summer, or fall. Even in the spring, only a fraction of the park may be open due to snow. It’s almost completely inaccessible and very dangerous in the winter.

Best features

The best features of the park include the various lakes, wildlife, wildflower meadows, volcanoes, and forestry.

What you should know

Lassen gets a ton of snow and shouldn’t be visited in the winter due to the dangerous road conditions. Wildlife sightings are also frequent within the park (mountain lions and bears), so caution should be taken.

How to get there

The closest airport is the Redding Airport. However, this airport is very small and only has a few flights, so it’s recommended to fly into the Sacramento International Airport and then make the 3 hour drive up to the park.

Where to stay

Besides camping, there isn’t any lodging within the actual park. The closest towns include Shingletown and Mineral. There, you can find a few cabins, hotels, and Airbnbs to stay in.

Permit information

The permit cost to elope in the park is $75. You can find all the contact information, rules, and application on the park website.

Desert Elopement Locations in California

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is another one of those locations that are expected to be seen on lists all about the best places to elope in California. I mean, how could it not be?

Joshua Tree is located in Southern California near Palm Springs. It’s famous for its rugged rock formations and named for its twisted and bristled Joshua Trees. Joshua Tree is a true desert and is the perfect elopement location for those who love the heat and simplicity of this beautiful area.

When to elope at Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree is the most popular among tourists during the spring and fall in order to avoid the summer heat. I personally think late November or December are great months to elope in this gorgeous desert. Not only will you avoid the heat, but you’ll avoid a majority of the crowds who tend to visit in September and October. If you’re wanting to visit during the busy season, I recommend a sunrise or sunset ceremony during a weekday to avoid all the crowds.

Best features

Joshua Tree is best known for its Joshua Trees themselves. However, there are a few popular landmarks such as Keys View, Skull Rock, and Hidden Valley. 

What you should know

Joshua Tree is a beautiful place, but should be avoided during the middle of day in the summer. It’s definitely possible to elope during this time, but it often reaches 100 degrees, and in recent years, this temperature has steadily increased over the years. It also gets super cold at night during the winter, so be prepared for cold temperatures.

How to get there

The closest international airport to Joshua Tree is the Palm Spring International Airport. It’s about 45 minutes away from the park. You can also fly into the Los Angeles International Airport if it’s more accessible for you. It’s about 2 hours and 30 minutes away.

Where to stay

Joshua Tree definitely has some of the coolest Airbnbs in California. I highly recommend staying in one of these hidden gems. There are also some unique hotels just outside of the park and in Palm Springs that are worth checking out as well.

If you’re into camping, Joshua Tree also has a few campsites you can snag between May and September. 

Permit information

Obtaining a permit from Joshua Tree is very easy. It costs $120, and you can get it by filling out the application and simply emailing it to the NPS office. Check out everything you need to know about permits within the park here.

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon is a state park near Bakersfield and is surprisingly not as well known as the other state parks. It’s another desert area in Southern California that’s filled with dramatic shapes and vivid colors. There are even Joshua Trees here, making it a great alternative to Joshua Tree National Park if you’re wanting something a bit more intimate and unique.

When to elope at Red Rock Canyon

Just like all deserts, you’ll want to elope here during the spring, fall, or winter when the temperature isn’t as hot. I recommend a winter elopement if you want to beat the minimal crowds that visit here each year.

Best features

Red Rock Canyon is obviously known for its dramatic red rocks, but it’s also known for those vivid desert sunsets. Red Rock Canyon also has some hiking trails and caves that can be explored as well.

What you should know

It gets super windy in this area of California, so always check the weather before planning an elopement near this spot.

How to get there

The closest airport to Red Rock Canyon is the Bakersfield Airport. It’s around a 1 hour and 15 minute drive to get to the park from the airport. However, if you’re looking for a larger airport with more accessibility, fly into the Los Angeles International Airport and make the 1 hour and 45 minute drive from there.

Where to stay

There are a few different lodging options near Red Rock Canyon. The park itself has a number of different campsites if you’re wanting something a bit more adventurous.

As far as hotels and Airbnbs go, there are a few options in the neighboring town of Mojave including Best Western, Comfort Inn, and Motel 6.

Permit information

Although I couldn’t find an exact cost of the permit, you are required to have one for your elopement. The permit looks to be around $150. You can find contact information and how to obtain a permit here.

Glamis Sand Dunes

The Glamis Sand Dunes, also known as the Imperial Sand Dunes, are located in Southern California near the border of Mexico and are over 40 miles long. The dunes are like a little slice of Morocco in California and make for the prettiest, simple background for any image. The reason it’s on the list of the best places to elope in California is because of its uniqueness and rareness.

When to elope at Glamis Sand Dunes

The best time to elope in this area is during the spring, fall, or winter in order to avoid the summer heat. I personally recommend winter, as that’s when it’s the coolest and most enjoyable.

Best features

Aside from the dunes themselves, there isn’t much to this area. The dunes simply just steal the show.

What you should know

It gets extremely hot in this are during the summer, I’m talking over 100 degrees hot almost everyday. I definitely don’t recommend eloping here during the heat.

How to get there

The closest airport to Glamis is the Yuma International Airport in Arizona. It’s about a 50 minute drive from the airport.

Where to stay

The dunes have various camping sites if you’re wanting something more adventurous for your elopement. If you don’t want to camp, I recommend booking a hotel or Airbnb in Yuma, AZ. It’s the closest town that has everything you’ll need for your trip.

Permit information

The sand dunes requires a permit for your elopement, and it costs $100. You can obtain one by filling out the application found on this website.

Death Valley National Park

Once again, I couldn’t make a list about the best places to elope in California and not include Death Valley National Park. I mean, I couldn’t make a list and not include almost every national park in California. Can you blame me?

Death Valley National Park is located right on the border of California and Nevada and is in fact the hottest and driest national park in America. However, there is still an abundance of life that is able to survive in these extreme conditions. Not only is it one of the most extreme national parks, but it’s also the most unique and has various shapes, colors, and textures throughout the park.

When to elope in Death Valley National Park

The best time to elope in this area is during the late fall or winter. In the spring and summer, the park reaches over 100 degrees almost every single day and definitely isn’t the safest time to visit. In the fall and winter, you’ll have cooler temperatures and a much more enjoyable time.

Best features

Death Valley has some pretty cool landscapes and places to check out. From Zabriskie Point and Dante’s View to Badwater Basin and Racetrack Playa, you can’t go wrong with an elopement location at any of these places.

What you should know

Like I stated before, the park is extremely hot and not safe to hike or visit for a long period of time in the winter. 

The park is also very desolate, so prepare for days without cell phone service, and make sure the gas in your car is full and stocked with food and water.

How to get there

In order to get to the park, you’ll want to fly into the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas and then make the 2 hour drive to finally reach the park.

Where to stay

Besides various campgrounds, there aren’t any areas within the park to stay. You’re going to have to stay pretty far from in the park in either Lone Pine, Beatty, or Las Vegas.

Permit information

The park only allows for 50 guests, and weddings must take place at designated parts within the park. The cost of the permit is $210. You can find more information about the permit and how to obtain one here.

Want to Elope in California?

A bride and groom eloping at Laguna Beach in California.

Check out this blog post all about how to elope in California, along with California elopement packages, and a California elopement that took place at Sunset Cliffs.

Need help planning your CALIFORNIA elopement?

Snag your FREE elopement guide! The same exact one I send to all my couples, filled with tips and tricks about how to prepare for your dream elopement, whether it’s a sunny elopement in California or a cold elopement in Alaska!

A free guide all about how to elope, created by a California elopement photographer.
Brianna Parks, a California elopement photographer.

Hey there, I'm Brianna!

I’m a California elopement photographer who had a big traditional wedding, and I can’t tell you how many arguments there were about my day.

I was pressured to pick a certain venue, certain colors, certain guests, and it felt like I was spending thousands of dollars to play host at a party that had nothing to do with the connection between my husband and I.

Don’t fall into the trap society has constructed around big weddings. Instead, buy the plane ticket, get the wedding dress  dirty, and turn your stressed out wedding day into a carefree, adventure filled elopement experience that you’ll remember for a lifetime.

A free guide all about how to elope, created by a California elopement photographer.

Snag your FREE elopement guide! The same exact one I send to all my couples, filled with tips and tricks about how to prepare for your dream elopement, whether it’s a sunny elopement in California or a cold elopement in Alaska!

Brianna Parks, a California elopement photographer.

Hey there, I'm Brianna!

I’m a California elopement photographer who had a big traditional wedding, and I can’t tell you how many arguments there were about my day.

I was pressured to pick a certain venue, certain colors, certain guests, and it felt like I was spending thousands of dollars to play host at a party that had nothing to do with the connection between my husband and I.

Don’t fall into the trap society has constructed around big weddings. Instead, buy the plane ticket, get the wedding dress  dirty, and turn your stressed out wedding day into a carefree, adventure filled elopement experience that you’ll remember for a lifetime.

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