How to Elope in Joshua Tree National Park

Elopements are some of my absolute favorite thing to photograph, but most people get hung up on the process of how to elope. In particular, Joshua Tree National Park is genuinely one of my all-time favorite elopement locations. The beautiful neutral colors of the desert, the Joshua Trees across the landscape, and the variety of photo backgrounds have this photographer dreaming of the next couple I get to document there! Today we’re going to talk about the different steps you’ll need to take to elope in Joshua tree and have the intimate wedding of your dreams.

Step 1: Permits, Applications, & Fees

Just like with most other national parks, Joshua Tree National Park requires couples to reserve a special use permit . This permit allows you to have weddings/elopements/etc. within the national park. This permit costs $120 for guest counts of 25 people or less. If your elopement is more than 25 people, additional fees will apply. (Still cheaper than a wedding venue!).

When planning your Joshua Tree Elopement, keep in mind that the permit can take several weeks to be approved – I recommend getting your permit as one of your first steps to planning your elopement!

Rock formations like these + the amazing desert sun make for incredible photos in Joshua Tree National Park!

Step 2: Choosing the Location

While you can take photos across the park in approved locations, there are only a few select locations that you can legally have your ceremony. These locations include:

  • Hidden Valley Picnic Area
  • Quail Springs Picnic Area
  • Cap Rock
  • Live Oak
  • Split Rock
  • Rattlesnake Picnic Area

You really can’t go wrong with choosing a location for your ceremony. I definitely recommend asking your photographer their recommendations, or doing a quick google search of your own. Keep in mind you can always visit your other favorite locations for bridal portraits before or after the ceremony!

3. Planning your elopement day!

This is my personal favorite! With elopements, you have complete control over the feel of the day and the timeline. Want to get ready at an adorable airbnb surrounded by the people you love? Have breakfast while you watch the desert sunrise? Why not even go for a morning hike overlooking the joshua trees in the park?

My biggest piece of advice is to hire vendors that help you with this part! Communicate your vision to them and let them help you create a timeline for your elopement. There are adorable coffee shops near Joshua Tree, plenty of outdoor things to do, and the most incredible places to stay!

4. Finding a place to stay.

Speaking of places to stay in Joshua Tree, let me make some recommendations!

For small groups: (2-6)

Joshua Tree Terrace, Desert View – this Airbnb has the most incredible backyard, complete with a table that just begs to be used for a pre or post-ceremony meal with your loved ones.

Joshua Tree Desert Retreat – possibly one of the prettiest Airbnb’s I have ever seen…a backyard with outdoor seating, a hot tub for chilly desert nights, and the perfect decorations in every corner!

Mojave Vista – A Joshua Tree Retreat – an outdoor pool, desert decorations, and outdoor fire pit make this place perfect for any kind of gathering!

For large groups: (8-15)

Flora by AvantStay | Modern & Private Desert Oasis on Large Grounds

Oasis on the Mesa: A High Desert Resort

Star Rise Retreat

7BR Stargazing Lux Retreat Pool/Spa & Yoga Studio

Wedding Venues near Joshua Tree National Park:

If you’re looking for something a little more formal for your Joshua Tree elopement, you also could book a nearby wedding venue! This option allows room for more guests, while still allowing you to get those desert photos. I researched a couple wedding venues in and near Joshua Tree National Park to help you with your search!

The Beauty of Joshua Tree

Regardless of where you decide to hold your elopement, how many guests you bring, or what your elopement day looks like, you truly cannot go wrong with choosing to elope in Joshua Tree National Park. I had the privilege to photograph a bride and groom in Joshua Tree several months ago and was left speechless of the beauty this California National Park holds. I hope this advice helps you as you plan your elopement!

If you need a photographer for your Joshua Tree National Park elopement, I would love to be considered! You can find more of my work at You can also find more information specifically regarding elopements here. I can’t wait to help you plan your intimate, beautiful elopement in the desert! Please reach out with ANY questions at all – I would love to help you elope in Joshua Tree National Park!