Joshua Tree is a unique and spacious desert located in Southern California. Known for their unique rock formations and Joshua Trees, this place is quickly growing in popularity amongst couples who are wanting to tie the knot. As a Joshua Tree elopement photographer, I have helped countless couples plan and perfect their Joshua Tree elopements. I created this guide filled with a ton of different tips, tricks, and knowledge to help you plan your very own Joshua Tree wedding or elopement!
How Many Guests Can I Have at My Joshua Tree Wedding?
The wedding venues in Joshua Tree have different maximum capacities. The largest venue they have can hold 100 people total, but this also includes people like your officiant and photographer. The average amount of guests allowed at your wedding is only 18.
Keep in mind that Joshua Tree only allows a certain amount of vehicles at each venue as well. To see more information, check out the official park website here.
Joshua Tree Wedding Venues
*Joshua Tree only allows certain locations to be used for ceremonies. If you see a location not on this list, contact the park directly for further information. If you don’t have any guests at your wedding, there may be some exceptions.
Indian Cove Amphitheater
See more: Indian Cove Amphitheater
Max capacity: 100 people, 1 car
The Indian Cove Amphitheater is Joshua Tree’s largest wedding venue, and one of my personal favorites. The ceremony site is wide open and backed by beautiful rock formations. It’s the perfect site for couples looking to have a larger wedding.
Hidden Valley Picnic Area
See more: Hidden Valley Picnic Area
Max capacity: 35 people, 8 cars
Hidden Valley Picnic Area is a Joshua Tree wedding venue that’s only open from June-January. However, don’t let this deter you from looking at this venue as a possibility for your wedding. The Hidden Valley Picnic Area has open areas, Joshua Trees, and unusual rock formations. I personally love this area in the fall.
See more: Turkey Flats
Max capacity: 35 people, 8 cars
Turkey Flats is a great Joshua Tree elopement location for the couple looking for something simple. This location is very flat and doesn’t offer a whole lot in terms of scenery except for some rolling hills and wildflowers, but that’s what makes it so unique. It allows couples to play with fun colors and textures.
See more: Cap Rock
Max capacity: 25 people, 8 cars
Cap Rock is the most popular wedding venue in Joshua Tree. Many people who get married at Cap Rock get married under the giant Joshua Tree that sits at this location. There are also numerous plants, rock formations, and nearby trails.
Rattlesnake Picnic Area
See more: Rattlesnake Picnic Area
Max capacity: 20 people, 8 cars
The Rattlesnake Picnic Area is another super cool wedding venue with various areas to be explored. You can choose to have your ceremony with a background of staggering rocks, or open fields of shrubbery.
Quail Springs Picnic Area
See more: Quail Springs Picnic Area
Max capacity: 15 people, 8 cars
This is one of the more popular picnic sites within the park, as it’s the first one you see once you enter the park. However, don’t let this steer you away. This area is absolutely breathtaking and features tons of Joshua Trees and stacked boulders.
See more: Split Rock
Max capacity: 15 people, 5 cars
Split Rock is one of the most popular wedding venues in Joshua Tree. It’s a 2 mile hike to get to the rock, and it can be a bit crowded, but it’s definitely one of my favorites. Split Rock makes the perfect ceremony location no matter where you stand.
See more: Porcupine Wash
Max capacity: 12 people, 4 cars
Porcupine Wash is a an 8 mile hike, but there are plenty of unique ceremony sites along the way. This trail is much more open and has a variety of different wildflowers and rock formations.
Queen Valley Mine Intersection
See more: Queen Valley Mine Intersection
Max capacity: 10 people, 5 cars
If you love history, you’ll love this Joshua Tree wedding venue. What was once a gold mine is now a popular area to visit within the park. There are so many different rock formations and hills, and it’s only a 0.7 mile hike to reach the mine.
Lost Horse Parking Lot
See more: Lost Horse Parking Lot
Max capacity: 10 people, 5 cars
Lost Horse is another fascinating area within Joshua Tree. The trail is about 7 miles roundtrip and takes you to another old gold mine. Like most trails in Joshua Tree, you’ll see rock formations, open fields, and lots of Joshua Trees.
Live Oak Picnic Area
See more: Live Oak Picnic Area
Max capacity: 5 people, 3 cars
Live Oak Picnic Area is another very unique Joshua Tree wedding venue. At this area, there aren’t a ton of Joshua Trees, but there are tons of rock formations and open areas. This is personally of my favorite wedding venues within the park.
Tumbleweed Sanctuary, Garden & Labyrinth
See more: Tumbleweed Sanctuary, Garden & Labyrinth
Max capacity: 100
Tumbleweed Sanctuary, Garden & Labyrinth is the perfect wedding venue for the boho couple. It has both indoor and outdoor ceremony areas. Not only does this venue have Joshua Trees, but it also have a garden filled with lavender, rosemary, and succulents.
See more: Nowhere California
Max capacity: NA, contact venue
Nowhere California is located right on the outskirts of Joshua Tree and is one of the most unique wedding venues in Joshua Tree. It’s very modern and minimalistic. 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.
Joshua Tree Wedding Permit Information
The Joshua Tree permit is non-refundable and costs $120. There may be additional costs depending on the size of your wedding or location.
To get the special use permit, simple fill out the online application found here and email it to Jeannie_Wilson@nps.gov. If your application is approved, you’ll receive an email to pay the permit fee online.
Best Places to Stay in Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree has some of the coolest Airbnbs I have ever seen! Choosing an Airbnb or place to stay within the park is often a difficult choice, as there are so many jaw dropping places to stay. The options are endless when it comes to lodging in Joshua Tree. Check out some of my favorite places to stay below as a Joshua Tree elopement photographer.
Best Airbnbs in Joshua Tree
Cactus Jax Cottage – A modern, minimalistic and bohemian cottage located in Joshua Village. This cute Airbnb if perfect for couples looking at having a secluded experience.
The Roadhouse Ranch – This laidback retro Airbnb is situated within the heart of the Mojave Desert. Vibrant colors, an open layout, and super bright stars are only just a few perks of staying here.
Area 55 Futuro House – You would be very lucky to book a stay here for the night. This famous Area 55 Airbnb is often booked out a year in advance. If you’re looking for a super unique experience, you can’t go wrong with Area 55.
Minimalist Modern Cabin – Just as the name suggests, this minimalistic cabin is perfect for couples looking for the basics. All glass walls and spectacular views of the high desert make this a photographer’s dream.
The Joshua Tree National Park House – This cozy home is perfect for intimate weddings and elopements. It’s a short 10 minute drive from the park and has a variety of different amenities and decor that will simply exceed your expectations.
Best Hotels in Joshua Tree
Sacred Sands – Sacred Sands is a romantic desert oasis. Known for their outdoor tubs and showers, this place is perfect for a honeymoon stay.
The Lautner – The Lautner is not your typical hotel. The Lautner is beautiful designed and offers 4 different luxury spaces. This place is well sought after, so book early!
Mojave Sands Motel – This motel is the perfect place for couples on a budget. With quick access to the park and a room with standard amenities, this motel offers everything you’d need for a quick stay.
The Castle House Estate – The Castle House has been featured on HGTV and provides the ultimate glamping experience. This spot is particularly popular for weddings!
Joshua Tree Inn – Similar to Mojave Sands Motel, the Joshua Tree Inn is a great place for a quick stay that’s close to all attractions and activities.
Best Camping Spots in Joshua Tree
Hidden Valley Campground – Hidden Valley Campground is an extremely popular place for campers. All sites are first-come, first-served, so get there early to secure a spot!
Jumbo Rocks Campground – Jumbo Rocks is another popular campground, especially amongst families. This one does require a reservation, so make note of the dates you’d like to secure and when the reservations open up!
Belle Campground – Belle Campground is small and doesn’t have a ton of amenities close by, but it’s known as being one of the best campgrounds to see the stars.
White Tank Campground – White Tank Campground is also another amazing place to see the stars, as it is located within one of the darkest sections of the park. Bring lots of water though, this campsite doesn’t have any!
Ryan Campground – Ryan Campground is a larger campground within the park. This one requires reservations and is a great place to stay if you want something more quiet, as 3 people are only allowed at each site.
The Best Time of Year to Have a Joshua Tree Wedding
One of the best times to have your Joshua Tree wedding 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 highly recommend the month of November for your wedding.
Another great time to visit the park, if you don’t mind chilly temperatures, is in the winter. Winter lasts from December – February and the temperature is consistently in the mid to high 60s. However, it can drop significantly after the sun goes down. Winter is also a great month for your Joshua Tree wedding 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 is the most popular season amongst tourists in Joshua Tree. From March – May, the park quickly fills up with campers and visitors 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 wedding, I recommend choosing to get married during the middle of the week and having a sunrise ceremony to avoid the crowds.
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 wedding, the night is actually very enjoyable for camping. Plus, during the month of August, it’s a great time to see the annual Perseid Meteor Shower.
Joshua Tree Wedding Activities
There are dozens of activities to try out for elopement. I’ve compiled a very short list of ideas I found in the actual park, and just outside the area in towns like Joshua Tree Valley and Palm Springs.
- Check out the famous Joshua Tree sites like Skull Rock and Keys View
- Ride a horse through the desert
- Eat some breakfast at the well-known Crossroads Cafe
- Take a beginners rock climbing course from a local guide
- Walk through the Cactus Garden within the park
- Take a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
- Go stargazing in one of the most beautiful places in the world – Joshua Tree!
Joshua Tree Elopements Packages
I help plan and craft dream elopements and small weddings in Joshua Tree and California. To view all my packages, check out this page here.
Joshua Tree Wedding Package Pricing:
- 4 hours – 1.5 days of wedding day coverage
- A hands-on planning experience with unlimited assistance
- personalized Joshua Tree wedding 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 $4,000
Yes, you can get married at Joshua Tree in the provided ceremony spaces the park has listed on their website.
Joshua Tree is progressively becoming more and more popular. To avoid the crowds, consider visiting during the off-season.
To elope in Joshua Tree, you must buy the $120 wedding permit and reserve your ceremony site within the park.
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.
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I’m Brianna, a California elopement photographer who inspires, encourages, and empowers couples to push traditional boundaries and create experiences they’ll remember forever.