Why Should You Elope in Joshua Tree?

Joshua Tree is known as one of the best places to elope in California, and over the past few months, it’s been quickly growing as a top spot for those looking to elopement in a desert environment. Joshua Tree is located right near Palm Springs and the famous Coachella Valley. It’s over 800,000 acres, and provides some incredible views of California desert. Named after its famous Joshua Tree, it’s not difficult to find these native trees scattered throughout the park, and it’s one of the largest reasons that 2 million people make a trip to the park every year. If Joshua Tree sounds like the perfect place for your elopement, keep reading!

Rock formations in Joshua Tree National Park.

#1: Choose When to Elope in Joshua Tree

Fall

One of the best times to have your Joshua Tree elopement is in the fall, specifically in October and November. During this time, the crowds are minimal, the weather is nice, and the light is absolutely stunning. I personally think November is the best month to visit the park due to low crowds and temperature. Outside of the park, there are also numerous festivals that go on and make for a fun activity after your elopement. 

Winter

Another great time to visit the park, if you don’t mind chilly temperatures, is in the winter. Winter lasts from December – February, and throughout these months, the temperature is consistently in the mid to high 60s. However, it can drop significantly after that sun goes down. Winter is also a great month for your Joshua Tree elopement if you want to avoid the crowds. Second to summer, these 3 months bring in the least amount of visitors, making it an ideal time for any couple wanting something extremely intimate.

Spring

Spring is the most popular season amongst tourists in Joshua Tree, but it’s no surprise why. From March – May, the park quickly fills up with campers and visitors from all around the world coming to see the beauty Joshua Tree has to offer. During this time, the weather is nice both day and at night, the wildflowers are in full bloom, and the outdoor activities are extremely enjoyable. If you’re wanting a spring elopement, I recommend choosing to elope during the middle of the week and having a sunrise or sunset elopement to avoid the crowds.

Summer

Summer is the least popular season in Joshua Tree. With temperatures reaching over 100 degrees daily, it makes any physical activity outside extremely dangerous. While mid-day probably isn’t the best choice for your summer Joshua Tree elopement, the nighttimes during summer are actually very enjoyable for camping. Plus, during the month of August, it’s a great spot to see the annual Perseid Meteor Shower.

Joshua Tree National Park in California, one of the best places to elope.

#2: Find an Elopement Location in Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree isn’t the most diverse in terms of sceneries when compared to places like San Francisco or Big Sur, but it still offers beautiful views and provides great backgrounds for your photos. One of the best parts about is the desert is the neutrality of it. This makes any color and texture really pop, which is great when it comes to your outfit and bouquet!

Cap Rock

Cap Rock is one of the most popular elopement locations in Joshua Tree, and for a good reason. This spot has one of the most beautiful backdrops for an intimate ceremony. With staggering rocks and large Joshua Trees, it’s a beautiful place to consider for your Joshua Tree elopement. Many people who get married at Cap Rock get married under the giant Joshua Tree that sits at this location. You can also get married year-round here!

Hidden Valley Picnic Area

Hidden Valley Picnic Area is a Joshua Tree elopement location that’s only open from June-February. However, don’t let this deter you from looking at this venue as a possibility for your elopement. The Hidden Valley Picnic Area is pretty similar to Cap Rock. With open areas, Joshua Trees, and unusual rock formations, this is a great location for any intimate elopement.

Tumbleweed Sanctuary, Garden & Labyrinth

Tumbleweed Sanctuary, Garden & Labyrinth is the perfect elopement location for the boho bride. With both indoor and outdoor ceremony areas, it’s sure to accommodate any guest. Plus, you have the option to go all out with your elopement decor since you won’t be in the park itself. Not only does this venue have Joshua Trees, but it also have a garden filled with lavender, rosemary, and succulents. It’s the perfect ceremony location for elopements with guests.

Turkey Flats

Turkey Flats is a great Joshua Tree elopement location for the simple bride. This location is very flat and doesn’t offer a whole lot in terms of scenery except for some rolling hills, but that’s what makes it so unique. It’s great for the bride who wants something simple and timeless.

Live Oak Picnic Area

Live Oak Picnic Area is another very unique Joshua Tree elopement location. At this area, there aren’t a ton of Joshua Trees, but there are tons of rock formations and open areas. At Live Oak, only 5 people are allowed, making it the perfect location for those who want something extremely small.

Nowhere California

Nowhere California definitely isn’t what it sounds like. Nowhere California is located right on the outskirts of Joshua Tree and is one of the most unique location in Joshua Tree. With modern and beautiful rooms, it’s the perfect location for those who have guests at their elopement. Not only will you get the gorgeous desert background, but you’ll also get minibikes, arcade games, and standing tubs. This place is pretty awesome.

Split Rock

Split Rock is one of the most popular elopement locations in Joshua Tree, and it’s exactly what it sounds like… a huge split rock! It’s a super unique wedding venue and definitely one of my favorites. With numerous backdrops around this trail area, it makes for the perfect ceremony location no matter where you stand.

*Each of these locations only allows a specific amount of guests. Some locations also only allow elopements between certain months. Check all the maximum occupancies and location details here.

Starry night in Joshua Tree

#3: Purchase a Joshua Tree Elopement Permit

Like all national parks, you will need a permit to elope. The permit costs $120 regardless of the size of your party. The permit is rather easy to obtain. All you need to do is fill out the application on the park’s website and send it in through mail or email. After the park receives the permit, they’ll send you a link where you can purchase your permit online. The park doesn’t accept checks. I recommend sending your permit in as soon as possible, as processing can take a few days. You can find all the necessary information you need to obtain a permit here.

Joshua Tree desert in California.

#4: Find and Book Joshua Tree Elopement Vendors

Vendors, I believe, should be booked as soon as you find out you’re going to elope, especially if there isn’t much time until your wedding date. It can definitely be overwhelming to put details together, but don’t stress. This what the vendors are here for! Below, you’ll find a list of some of the vendors you should definitely consider hiring.

Photographer

As an elopement photographer myself, I love when couples reach out to me first. Nowadays, photographers who solely specialize in elopements are often planners as well! Not only will they help you find secret elopement locations, but they’ll also help you find other vendors and offer tips and tricks that will help you help you on your elopement day. You can can see an example of everything that you’ll get out of a Joshua Tree elopement package here.

Officiant

In order to elope in California, you’ll need an officiant. It can be a hassle to find one, especially if you want to hike for your elopement, but it’s not impossible! I’m an officiant and love to officiate ceremonies if my couples want someone they already know. However, if you’re wanting a close friend or family at your elopement, they can officiate. All they need to do is sign up online! It’s a super easy process and takes less than 5 minutes. If you’d rather hire an officiant for your Joshua Tree elopement, check out some officiants near the area here.

Florist

Florists are an absolute must, especially in Joshua Tree! One great thing about this area is the neutral colors. This will make any wedding bouquet pop and look 10 times better than if it were in a different location, one of the many reasons Joshua Tree is a great place to elope. While the park doesn’t allow dried florals, your florist will be able to help your wedding bouquet vision come to life. They’re truly the best at what they do!

Hair and Makeup Artist

If you decide to elope in Joshua Tree, I highly recommend investing in a good hair and makeup artist, especially if you elope during the summer heat. Makeup artists will keep your face looking perfect all day, even if you’re dripping in sweat. Hairstylists will also make sure that your hair keeps its volume and shine regardless of the dry heat. If you’re wanting to feel your absolute best, a hair and makeup artist should strongly be considered for your elopement day.

Airbnb in Joshua Tree National Park

#5: Purchase Flights and Lodging for Your Joshua Tree Elopement

Flights

There are various airport options you can choose from to get to Joshua Tree. The closest airport is the Palm Springs International Airport, and it’s pretty accessible from other major airports. It takes about 1 hour to reach the park from this airport.

You can also fly into the Los Angeles International Airport and make the 2.5 drive, or fly into the Las Vegas Airport and make the 3.5 drive to Joshua Tree.

Lodging

Joshua Tree has some of the coolest Airbnbs I have ever seen, and I highly recommend staying in one of these over a chain hotel. All the Airbnbs are super modern, chic, and very unique! From UFO shaped houses to airstreams, you have tons of options to choose from. These houses also provide some of the cutest backgrounds for getting ready photos!

If you prefer to stay in a hotel, there are a variety of different options to choose from in Palm Springs, whether you want a chain hotel or a smaller bed and breakfast.

If you want to go camping, Joshua Tree has a ton of different campsites to choose from for your intimate elopement.

Road in Joshua Tree National Park

#6: Announce and Celebrate Your Joshua Tree Elopement

You’re officially a Joshua Tree eloper! Now, it’s time to celebrate. Every couple celebrates differently. You can celebrate with a romantic dinner, a California road trip, a skydiving adventure, a few days camping, etc. The options are truly endless when it comes to celebrating.

After you’ve celebrated, it’s time to break the news with friends and family (if you wish). I’ve seen some pretty creative ways people have announced their Joshua Tree elopements. Want a few ideas on how to announce your elopement? Check out this post!

Joshua Tree Elopement Packages

I help plan and craft dream elopements in Joshua Tree and California. To view all my elopement packages, check out this page here.

Joshua Tree Elopement Package Pricing:

  • 4 hours – 1.5 days of elopement coverage
  • A hands-on Joshua Tree elopement planning experience with unlimited assistance
    • personalized Joshua Tree elopement locations
    • vendor recommendations
    • permit assistance
    • customized elopement timeline
  • Online gallery with full resolution and printing rights
  • 24-48 hour sneak peaks 
  • Travel fees to anywhere in California already included
  • Starting at $3,000

Want more elopement inspiration? Check out this beach elopement at Sunset Cliffs, a Yosemite elopement guide, Los Angeles wedding venues, and more resources to help you plan your elopement!

FAQ

Can you get married at Joshua Tree?

Yes, you can get married at Joshua Tree in the provided ceremony spaces the park has provided you.

Is Joshua Tree crowded?

Joshua Tree is progressively becoming more and more popular. To avoid the crowds, consider visiting during the off-season.

How do you elope in Joshua Tree?

To elope in Joshua Tree, you must buy the $120 wedding permit and reserve your ceremony site within the park.

Is Joshua Tree National Park dangerous?

As long as you’re aware of your surroundings, Joshua Tree is not dangerous. There is always risk of heat stroke within the summer, but this can easily be avoided by visiting during the off-season.

NEED HELP PLANNING YOUR DREAM ELOPEMENT?

Snag your FREE elopement guide to help you plan your dream elopement in California, Alaska, or even Spain! Learn everything you need to know about how to plan a “just us” experience.

A free guide all about how to elope, created by a California elopement photographer.
A girl holding a camera and smiling.

ARE YOU READY FOR AN ELOPEMENT EXPERIENCE LIKE NO OTHER?

I’m Brianna, a California elopement photographer who inspires, encourages, and empowers couples to push traditional boundaries and create experiences they’ll remember forever.

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