How to Plan an Adventure Elopement in Joshua Tree

Are you down for an adventure and want to get married in a beautiful destination that you’ll remember for the rest of your life? If the answer was a “yes” then a national park elopement might be just what you’ve been looking for! Tying the knot at Joshua Tree National Park in California is perfect for any couple who is looking for a unique backdrop and has fallen in love with the rugged rock formations and twisted trees that this gorgeous desert oasis provides! 

Read on to find a few of my favorite tips to help you plan an adventure elopement in Joshua Tree! 

photo of bride and groom smiling at each other in Joshua Tree for their wedding

1. Choose a Season to Elope in Joshua Tree

Before you can dive into planning your big day, it’s important to decide what season you want to say “I do.” As an adventure elopement photographer, I generally recommend avoiding a summer elopement because it’s very hot — with temperatures reaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more!  While a summer elopement can be incredibly gorgeous and offer a stunning backdrop for your wedding portraits, other seasons can offer the same level of beauty at cooler temps.

Although they vary according to the rainfall each year, spring can bring super blooms of desert wildflowers. This can make for beautiful Joshua tree elopement photos — and make it even more of a memorable day — if you’re lucky enough to wed in the park when this phenomenon occurs. Fall and early winter are great times for stargazing in the national parks, which can make them the perfect time for a romantic elopement!

photo of Joshua Tree at sunset

It’s not uncommon to experience a bit of stormy weather in the park, especially if you’re visiting from October through April. This is why I recommend working with an elopement photographer (like myself). We are experts at knowing how to best prepare and plan for this type of weather so it doesn’t interfere with your day!

Regardless of what season you choose for your Joshua Tree National Park elopement, you should always be prepared for wind! This is nothing to worry about though! This just adds to the excitement of the day and makes it even more unforgettable. 

photo of bride and groom walking towards rocks for their Joshua Tree wedding
photo of bride and groom standing in street at night with lanterns, embracing

2. Decide Where to Stay For Your Joshua Tree Elopement

It’s important to decide on what type of accommodations you want for your elopement in Joshua Tree. There are lots of cute and boho Airbnbs and lodges in the area that are great options for you to rest your head for the night and get ready on your wedding day. Looking for something a bit more rugged? The park is also known to have lots of campgrounds to choose from, so if camping is more your style you’re covered! 

Although Palm Springs is a popular place to stay, it’s an hour away from either park entrance. I personally recommend choosing somewhere that’s more conveniently located to where you plan to elope in the national park. It takes about an hour to drive through Joshua Tree National Park, so the closer you stay to your ceremony location, the more smoothly your day will be (and the less stressed you’ll feel)!

photo of bride and groom in tent making smores at Joshua Tree

If you enjoy a small-town vibe and want to see the iconic forests, I advise staying somewhere near the north of the park for your Joshua Tree elopement. Towns like Yucca Valley or 29 Palms offer this feel and are so serene. While you’ll find more amenities near the south of the park, they tend to be in busier cities with more traffic and less charm. 

Since convenience is key, I highly suggest flying into Palm Springs International Airport! The airport is about an hour away from the park by car, making it easy for you and any guests joining you for your adventure elopement to get to the park with ease!

photo of bride and groom getting married at Joshua Tree and exchanging vows
black and white photo of rocks at Joshua Tree National Park

3. Find a Joshua Tree Elopement Photographer

This rocky desert is a playground for an adventure elopement photographer! It pays to choose a photographer who knows the area well. They’ll know all the best places in the park to capture your Joshua tree elopement photos.

Another benefit? A local elopement photographer can help you choose a legitimate officiant and suggest reputable wedding vendors. They’ll also know the rules and regulations for eloping in Joshua Tree, such as the fact that you’ll need to obtain a park permit and a California marriage license. You’ll also need two witnesses to be present, along with your wedding officiant, present at the time of your ceremony. 

photo of bride and groom kissing on wedding night while holding lanterns

It’s also important for your Joshua Tree elopement photographer to have a good understanding of the desert climate and safety. This is something I bring to the table, as a California local and someone who was raised in the desert! Feel free to chat with me about how we can make your Joshua Tree wedding a reality!

Photo of bride and groom looking into each other's eyes and embracing with the sunset behind them
photo of newlyweds walking around Joshua Tree National Park for their elopement

4. Decide on a Time of Day For Your Joshua Tree National Park Elopement

Due to heat safety concerns, I recommend avoiding a midday ceremony. Sunrise and sunset both offer the potential for cooler temperatures — and less crowds! 

As a California elopement photographer, I recommend a sunset ceremony because gorgeous colors often happen. There’s nothing prettier than shades of pink, purple, and orange in the sky, which can look absolutely breathtaking against the gorgeous rock formations in Joshua Tree! 

photo of groom dipping his bride and kissing her for their elopement at Joshua Tree
photo of tree at sunset at Joshua Tree National Park

5. Choose a Location For Your Ceremony and Joshua Tree Elopement Photos

Joshua Tree National Park has a list of 11 approved locations where your wedding ceremony can take place. You’re given a 2 hour timeframe, from start to finish. Each location has a limit on the number of guests who can join you for your national park wedding. As an adventure elopement photographer, I’ve found there are a few worth mentioning: 

Indian Cove Amphitheater 

Offering a desert vibe with towering rock formations, Indian Cove Amphitheater is a secluded dead-end area of the park. You can have up to 100 people at this Joshua Tree elopement location, which is more than any other area you can get married at within the park. If you choose to have your elopement here, your guests will have to take a shuttle. 

Cap Rock

This breathtaking spot is one of the most popular locations people choose when eloping in the park. The gorgeous rock dome formations you’ll find here can make for stunning national park elopement photos. 

photo of bride and groom looking at each other and smiling with lantern in their laps at night

Hidden Valley 

Though it’s one of the most crowded areas of the park, Hidden Valley is a popular spot to elope in Joshua Tree. Located in the middle of the park, the area features the park’s iconic trees and rock formations. 

Split Rock Loop

Split Rock Loop offers an iconic view of the park’s rock formations and trees, which can make for gorgeous desert elopement photos. One of the benefits of this location is that it’s generally less crowded than some of the other locations in the park.

No matter which location you choose for your elopement in Joshua Tree, you’ll need to get a permit for your ceremony. You must apply at least 15 days prior to your ceremony and no more than 12 months beforehand. Since approval is on a first-come, first-serve basis, I recommend applying sooner rather than later. You can find a link to the Special Use Permit Application on the park’s website. The park charges a $120 non-refundable fee along with your application. 

photo of bride and groom looking out at the distance on their elopement
photo of bride and groom walking hand and hand at Joshua Tree for their adventure elopement

After you tie the knot, you can take photos anywhere in the national park. If you need help choosing a location for your Joshua Tree elopement photos, be sure to ask your California photographer!

6. Decide What Activities to Include in Your Adventure Elopement in Joshua Tree

If you’re considering a national park elopement, you probably crave adventure — and Joshua Tree has lots of potential for that! Once you tie the knot, you’ll be able to enjoy a honeymoon exploring the park together. Due to its stunning rock formations, it’s no surprise that rock climbing and hiking are very popular in Joshua Tree National Park.

The park is home to the clearest night skies in all of California, which makes it a popular stargazing location. Some couples might plan their Joshua Tree elopement during a time when they’ll be able to see lunar eclipses or other astronomical events are occurring for extra special memories! If you’re planning to camp or stay at an Airbnb with a fire pit, you can roast marshmallows for s’mores and cuddle under the stars by the fire. I can’t think of a more romantic way to celebrate your Joshua Tree National Park elopement!

photo of groom looking back and his bride on a rock face

Ready to Book With Me? 

Are you ready to take the plunge and elope in Joshua Tree? I couldn’t be more excited for you! If you’ve decided you want to book me as your adventure elopement photographer in Joshua Tree, be sure to reach out so we can bring your national park photo dreams to fruition!

  1. Kat says:

    The SUNRISE COLORS. Oh my gosh! So darn beautiful, and there’s nothing like JT.

  2. Tessa Klingensmith says:

    Joshua Tree is a DREAM. I love all of this. Thanks for sharing this super helpful guide on how to plan your Joshua Tree elopement!

  3. Julia Maass says:

    Love the colors at sunrise and sunset! You’ve captured their day so beautifully!

  4. Marta says:

    Joshua Tree just looks like the most incredible location for an adventurous elopement. I am so in love with those camping photos!!!

  5. Leo says:

    Joshua Tree looks every bit as good as the reputation! You’ve captured some wonderful memories for these two…lucky couple. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Naomi Levit says:

    Joshua Tree is so beautiful! This is such a helpful guide!

  7. Christine Dopp says:

    There is so much great information about eloping at Joshua tree! AMAZING!

  8. Malin says:

    Wow that pink sky you were blessed with!!
    Amazing photos and such a great guide!

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