Best Places to Elope in California

Best Places to Elope in California

California is one of the very few states that has every landscape you could imagine for your adventure elopement. California is stacked with breathtaking beauty, making your decision on where to elope even harder. With a whopping 8 national parks and over 100 state parks, there is no shortage of incredible places to elope in California. If you want rugged rocky beaches, head north! If you want sunny surf beaches, head south! Or there are the epic cliffs in Yosemite and snow capped mountain peaks of the Sierras. You can find desert towers in Pinnacles National Park, or a desert bursting with life in Joshua Tree National Park. And of course, old growth forests and massive redwoods trees can be found in almost every part of the state. Hopefully this article will help make your decision easier on finding some of the best places to elope in California.

big sur elopement

How to elope in California

When is the best time to elope in California

BEST TIME TO VISIT: California is such a large state that the weather varies from place to place. That being said, California is know for its great weather and most places are good to visit year round. If you can avoid peak tourist season (June, July and August), you’ll have a better time avoiding crowds. But if you you’re visiting during peak season, there are plenty of hidden gems off the beaten path were you can avoid the heavy crowds. Just remember that no matter what time of year you’re considering, there are incredible places to elope in California!

CLIMATE: Northern California has a completely different climate than Southern California, as does the western part of the state verses the eastern side. Northern California (north of San Francisco) has mild weather year round with average temperatures ranging from 50-70 degrees Fahrenheit and tends to be more cloudy and rainy in the winter. Southern and central California are generally warm and dry year round, but when you head inland from the coast towards wine country, temperatures can get hot fast. On the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the landscape turns into a desert and is much hotter and drier. Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, and the Sierra Nevada mountain range are hot and arid in the summer and see a lot of snowfall December through April.

the 8 national parks are great places to elope in California

LANDSCAPES: Rugged beaches / snowcapped mountains / alpine lakes / waterfalls / old growth forests / rainforests / redwoods / deserts / lakes

NATIONAL PARKS: Yosemite / Joshua Tree / Sequoia / Redwood / Death Valley / Pinnacles / Lassen Volcanic / Channel Islands

BEST CITIES FOR LODGING AND ADVENTURE: In order from Northern California to Southern California: Crescent City, Truckee, San Francisco, Carmel/Monterey, Yosemite Valley, Yucca Valley

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: If you’re camping in national parks, California campsites book up very fast! Set an alarm to book your site 5 months in advance (this is when booking opens) because if you don’t, it WILL get booked up.

applying for your California marriage license

MARRIAGE LICENSE: Marriage licenses are valid for 90 days after issuance. You must apply in person at the county clerk’s office. You will receive your license when you apply, there is no waiting period. You’re required to have an officiant and two witnesses. Application fees vary by county.

For more details, visit the county website wherever you plan to elope.

So where are the best places to elope in California?

Click one of the links below to jump to more info about that area, or keep scrolling to read about all the best places to elope in California.

  1. Yosemite National Park
  2. Big Sur
  3. Redwoods National Park
  4. Lake Tahoe
  5. Alabama Hills
  6. Joshua Tree National Park
  7. Final Thoughts
Best places to elope in california

Okay, this one’s a gimme. A Yosemite elopement is always going to be epic no matter what. From Yosemite Valley up to Taft Point and everywhere in between, Yosemite has so many incredible views and trails that will take your breath away. It’s one of those places that really makes you realize how big and beautiful this world is.

Important Info: Tioga Road is the road that takes you up to Glacier and Taft Point and is closed from November through mid May. The special use permit required for elopements in Yosemite is $300 and must be applied for within 21 days of your elopement.

Driving time from San Francisco: 3.5-4 hours

Best place to look for lodging: You can camp in Yosemite, but campgrounds book up fast. If you’re planning to camp, make sure you reserve your site when booking opens up (5 months prior). If you want a hotel experience, you can stay in the valley at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel. Otherwise you’ll have to drive outside of the park to one of the nearby towns for lodging.

Check out our Yosemite Elopement Guide

big sur elopement

Big Sur is one of California’s most epic regions. The rugged coastline is know for its aqua water, big cliffs, sandy beaches, and even Redwoods. You can go up in the Succulent-covered hills for sweeping views of the coastline, or hike down to the beach to dip your feet into the Pacific Ocean. No matter where you are in Big Sur, you can always hear the romantic sound of the waves crashing against the cliffs. If you head inland a bit, you’ll find old growth forests and giant redwood groves. As far as coastlines and redwoods go, Big Sur is certainly one of the best places to elope in California.

Driving time from San Francisco: 3 hours to get to the small town of Big Sur. But the coastline keeps going, with some of the best spots located another 1-2 hours south.

Important Info: Big Sur is explored by a single winding road (Highway 1) that hugs the contours of the coastline. Currently, it is closed at the far south end of the Big Sur area due to a landslide and it doesn’t look like it’s going to open anytime soon. So you cannot access Big Sur from the south – only the north via Carmel/Monterey.

Best place to look for lodging: Carmel and Monterey are the two closest cities to find accommodations and are about 45 minutes to an hour outside of the park. If you want to be closer to Big Sur there are campgrounds, cabins, lodges, and even yurts and some cool glamping tents up and down the coast. If you’re planning to elope in peak tourist season, make your reservations well in advanced!

Check out pics: Big Sur Elopement Guide // Big Sur Elopement // Garrapata State Park Elopement

best places to elope

These two Redwoods parks are some of the best places to explore giant redwood groves. Redwoods National and State Park is located in the most northwestern corner of California, while Sequoia National Forest is located farther south in the central part of the state. Redwoods National and State Park is a short drive to a handful of beautiful beaches and Sequoia National Park is surrounded by mountains, so they’re both great options if you’re looking for variety of scenery in your day. If you want to be surrounded by some of this country’s tallest giants for your elopement, these places can’t be beat!

Check out pics: Redwoods Elopement

Driving time from San Francisco to Redwoods National and State Park: 5.5-6 hours

Driving time from Los Angeles to Sequoia National Park: 3.5 hours

Best place to look for lodging: The closet town to Redwoods SNP is Crescent City and the closet town to Sequoia NP is Three Rivers. If you’re looking for a cabin or lodge, Airbnb will be your best bet. There are campgrounds at both parks, but make sure to reserve your site well in advance as they book up quickly.

Check our our Redwoods Elopements

best places to elope in california

Eloping in Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is known as one of California’s favorite spots for all kinds of outdoor recreational fun. From hiking, kayaking, and rafting in the summer to all the snow sports you can think of in the winter, it’s one of the most well-rounded areas for adventure. It also happens to be incredibly beautiful, making it a perfect place to elope. South Lake Tahoe tends to be more touristy and built up while North Lake Tahoe has a cozier mountain town vibe. North Lake Tahoe is higher in elevation keeping it a bit cooler in the middle of summer and offers a lot of sweeping mountaintop views.

Driving time from San Francisco: 3.5 hours

Driving time from Reno, NV: 1 hour

Best place to look for lodging: Depending on which side of the lake you’re on, there are a bunch of different places to stay. Nevada City, CA and Truckee, CA are cute little mountain towns and our favorites for the north side. Truckee is closer to a lot of the epic elopement locations while the downtown of Nevada City has a little more going on, only a little though. South Lake Tahoe is a good place for the south. Check out the town Meyers if you want something a bit more remote.

eloping in california

Eloping in the Alabama Hills

The Sierra Nevada Mountain Range is California’s spot for classic snow capped mountain peaks. The valley that’s nestled on the eastern side of these mountains is known for a more desert-dry climate. The flat desert landscape rides right up to where the mountains start jutting up from the earth making you feel like you’re in the mountains when really, you’re just next to them. If you head west into the mountains and gain elevation, the landscape changes to slightly more lush and is sprinkled with plenty of mountain hikes and alpine lakes. And as you continue north on the eastern side of the Sierras, you come to Mammoth. Mammoth is known as a world class destination for snow sports and is an incredibly beautiful place to elope.

PRO TIP: There are hot springs all along the eastern side of the Sierras so make sure to hit them up for a nice soak while you’re there!

Drive time from Los Angeles: 3.5 – 5 hours

Best place to look for lodging: Lone Pine and Bishop are two of our favorite small towns on the eastern side of the sierras. Both have lodging options and a cute downtown with a handful of coffee shops, restaurants, and outdoor gear shops. Mammoth is a slightly larger mountain town on the northern part of the eastern sierras. Camping and

Eloping in Joshua tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is not a desolate desert whatsoever. It’s very much alive with all kinds of cacti, desert flowers, Joshua trees, desert animals, and towering grainy granite boulders and make you wonder how the heck they got there. It’s a pretty cool feeling wandering through a desert and seeing so much life, but that’s what makes Joshua Tree so unique. And whether or not you choose to elope here, make sure you add watching the sunrise in Joshua Tree to your bucket list. There’s nothing more peaceful than watching the sky turn different shades of blue, orange, and pink while listening to the quiet desert begin wake up.

Drive time from Los Angeles: 2.5 hours

Best place to look for lodging: Campgrounds book up right away so make sure to reserve your site 5 months in advance when reservations open. Otherwise there are very cool Airstreams, yurts, and glamping tents all around the park. Pioneertown is a small town just north of the park and is a good option for lodging and restaurants. is your best bet!

best places to elope in california and Yosemite Elopement Packages

some final tips for choosing the best placeS to elope in California

You really can’t go wrong any of the places to elope in California. Cali is clearly full of one-of-a-kind landscapes to explore with endless epic photo ops. Making your decision on where to elope probably isn’t any easier after reading this guide haha. So here are some final thoughts for helping you narrow it down.

focus on the experience, not just the photos.

In all of the best places to elope in California, you’re guaranteed to get epic photos, trust us photographers 😉 Instead of getting wrapped up in the kind of photos you want, it’s much better to focus on the overall experience. Do you want some luxury accommodations for your elopement night? How much do you mind crowds? What kinds of amenities would you like to have close by? What kind of weather do you want to elope in? These factors can help you narrow your decision down pretty quick!

when do you want to elope?

If you have your hearts set on a specific elopement date or time of year, that could have a big impact on the best place to elope in California. If you really want to get married in the mountains, the summer and fall season is pretty short due to snow melt. If you’re looking at a winter or spring elopement, the coast or the redwoods is lower elevation and usually great spot for late spring! If you’re flexible on dates, see when your photographer plans to be there. We always plan to be in these locations at the best time of year for weather and crowds.

how much adventuring do you want for your elopement?

The most popular destinations will often have plenty of options when it comes to trails and difficulty. So whether you want to hike 1 or 10 miles on your elopement day, there will probably be a perfect option for you. Other locations might be a bit more limiting, with only longer hikes if you want to experience the best views. We recommending hopping on All Trails to quickly explore the trails in each area so you can get a feel for how much hiking you might have to do there.

have an awesome time elopeing in California!

We hope this guide was helpful as you start to plan an epic California adventure elopement. This article just scratches the surface of eloping in California. If you’d like to work with us for your big day, we’ll hook it up with all of our favorite places to elope and help you plan and document an unforgettable adventure!

Sound like we're the one's for you?

Let's do this.

The Foxes are Brandon and Gabi Fox, an adventurous husband and wife elopement photography team living and traveling in their DIY renovated 1972 Airstream. They are loosely based in the Pacific Northwest, but travel for work and play throughout the western states and beyond. Their elopement photography is award winning and is described as candid photography that captures couples as they are, where they are, blending images of love and natural beauty in the great outdoors. 



These Terms and Conditions are a legally binding agreement is between you (“Client”) The Foxes Photography, LLC (“Photographer”) (collectively the “Parties”, or in the singular “Party”), for the purpose of Client purchasing a custom photography album from Photographer. This Agreement shall become effective upon the date you complete the checkout process.


  1. Fees & Retainer

Client shall commit to a custom album package by signing and returning this Agreement along with the initial payment for album service. Photographer will not begin its custom album services until the Agreement is signed and the album design fee is received. No final album will be printed until the full payment is made. In the event Client fails to remit payment as specified, Photographer shall have the right to immediately terminate this Agreement with no further obligation and retain any monies already paid as liquidated damages. Full payment must be completed by Client within 60 days of this Agreement’s date.

The fees in this Agreement are based on Photographer’s current album pricing at the time of booking. The price list is adjusted periodically, and any changes to custom albums will be charged at the prices in effect at the time.

  1. Album Design Procedure

The following outline indicates the general procedure of a custom album design. Client understands and agrees to this procedure.

  1. Photographer will use photos and album specifications to create their first custom album design.
  2. Photographer will send Client first draft of album design.
  3. Client will approve or send in revisions to album design.
  4. Photographer will make edits to album design. Only two rounds of edits are allowed.
  5. Client will approve final album design.
  6. Photographer will send in album for printing.
  7. Album is printed and shipped.
  8. Client receives final printed album.
  1. Album Spreads

Albums will include 35 spreads and no less. The definition of a “page” is one side of a spread in an album (for example, a 70-page album contains 35 spreads). If Client requests more than 35 spreads, additional spreads are $50.00 each. 

  1. Revision Rounds

The first draft will include photos selected by the photographer and will be sent to Client for approval. Client may request modifications to be made. Photographer shall complete modifications and send the second draft of album design to Client. Client may then accept the design or request one more round of modifications. Photographer will complete this second modification request and send the final draft of album to Client. After these two rounds of revisions to the album design, no further revisions are allowed. Any additional revisions are invoiced at a rate of $75.00 per round. All additional revision rounds must be paid before the revision is made by the Photographer. Photographer requires up to 10 days to complete a revision request. Client has 50 days to send Photographer any and all revision requests. Any revisions requested by Client more than 50 days after this Agreement’s date will not be accepted by Photographer.

  1. Final Approval

Photographer will not place an album order with the album Manufacturer until Client approves the design draft, and the balance is paid on any upgrades or additional spreads. Client agrees to check the final album design very carefully before giving final approval. Once final approval is given, Photographer is not responsible for typos, image defects, duplicate images, or other errors that may have been missed. 

  1. Parent/Duplicate Albums

Parent/duplicate albums cannot be altered from the original designs. All parent/duplicate albums shall be ordered at the time of final approval of the original album design and will be invoiced and must be paid prior to Photographer sending in album for printing. No parent/duplicate albums are available after the original album ordering phase is complete.

  1. Album Delivery

Client understands and agrees that Photographer’s album manufacturer (“Manufacturer”) generally takes 6-8 weeks to print and manufacture the album. While every possible precaution is taken and Manufacturer has been selected by Photographer for its superb quality, Photographer assumes no liability for the loss or damage of album while in possession of Manufacturer. 

  1. Ordering Date

Client shall agree to final album design within 60 days of this Agreement’s date. Any delay by Client in approving final album design will result in termination of this Agreement and no further obligation by Photographer.

  1. Retouching and Edits

Photographer will use the final edited images delivered to Client to make the album design. Photographer will not re-edit or retouch any images.

  1. Returns

Client understands and agrees that once final approval of album design has been given to Photographer, no returns or refunds are allowed whatsoever. In the event Client receives the printed album and sees any manufacturer defects or dislikes the album quality, Photographer will work with Manufacturer to the best of their ability to remedy the situation. Client is responsible for any additional fees associated with returning or reprinting the album.

  1. Album Archiving

Photographer shall keep a copy of final approved album design for 90 days but does not permanently archive the final album design. Client understands that after 90 days the album design will not be available to order additional copies and a new agreement must be signed to start the process over.

  1. Photographer Copyright

The final album design by The Foxes Photography, LLC is their property, will remain their property, and are protected by United States Copyright Laws (USC Title 17). Client hereby waives any claims for ownership, income, editorial control, and use of the images and album design. Violations of this federal law will be subject to its civil and criminal penalties.

  1. Reproduction

Client and Client’s agents agree to acquire the album design and product directly from Photographer through their professional album company. Client and Client’s agents agree not to scan, copy or reproduce the album design in any manner without written permission, including using the custom album design to create other albums. Photographer may seek damages for any illegal reproduction. Client and Client’s agents further agree not to supply the album to any third-parties.

  1. Communication

Photographer’s office hours are 9:00am – 5:00pm PST Monday through Friday. Photographer’s primary source of communication is through their email [email protected]. Photographer will respond to Client’s emails within those office hours.

  1. Indemnification

Client shall indemnify, release, discharge and hold harmless Photographer, its heirs, legal representatives, assigns, employees, contractors, or any persons or corporations acting under permission or authority of the Photographer from and against any and all losses, damages, liabilities, and expenses and costs, including reasonable legal expenses and attorneys’ fees, to which Photographer may become subject as a result of any claim, demand, action or other legal proceeding by any third-party to the extent such losses arise directly or indirectly out of activities performed by Photographer pursuant to this Agreement, except to the extent such losses result from the gross negligence, willful misconduct, or intentional acts of Photographer.

  1. Maximum Damages

The sole remedy for any actions or claims by Client shall be limited to a refund, the maximum amount not to exceed the total monies paid by Client under this Agreement.

  1. Limitation of Liability

If, during the production and/or before the album(s) are delivered to Client, the media has been lost, stolen, or is unusable because of defect, damage, equipment/platform malfunction, processing, or other technical error caused by Photographer or by forces outside the control of Photographer, Client agrees to relieve and hold Photographer harmless and will not impose any additional liability.

In no event shall Photographer be liable under this Agreement to Client or any other third-party for consequential, indirect, incidental, special, exemplary, punitive, or enhanced damages, arising out of, relating to, or in connection with any breach of this Agreement, regardless of (a) whether such damages were foreseeable, (b) whether or not Client was advised of such damages, and (c) the legal or equitable theory (contract, tort, or otherwise) upon which the claim is based.

  1. Force Majeure 

No Party shall be liable or responsible to the other Party, nor be deemed to have defaulted under or breached this Agreement, for any failure or delay in fulfilling or performing any term of this Agreement (except for any obligations to make payments to the other Party hereunder), when and to the extent such failure or delay is caused by or results from acts beyond the impacted party’s (“Impacted Party”) control that are unforeseen and unpredictable at the time of contracting, including, but not limited to, the following force majeure 

events (“Force Majeure Events”): (a) acts of God; (b) a natural disaster (fires, explosions, earthquakes, hurricane, flooding, storms, explosions, infestations), epidemic, or pandemic; (c) war, invasion, hostilities (whether war is declared or not), terrorist threats or acts, riot or other civil unrest; (d) government order or law; (e) actions, embargoes or blockades in effect on or after the date of this Agreement; (f) action by any governmental authority; (g) national or regional emergency; (h) strikes, labor stoppages or slowdowns or other industrial disturbances; and (i) shortage of adequate power or transportation facilities. The Impacted Party shall give Notice (as defined in Section 27) within 10 days of the Force Majeure Event to the other Party, stating the period of time the occurrence is expected to continue. The Impacted Party shall use diligent efforts to end the failure or delay and ensure the effects of such Force Majeure Event are minimized. The Impacted Party shall resume the performance of its obligations as soon as reasonably practicable after the removal of the cause. In the event that the Impacted Party’s failure or delay remains uncured for a period of 15 days following Notice given by it, the other Party may thereafter terminate this Agreement upon Notice. The Retainer and all other payments made by Client up to the date of Notice of a Force Majeure Event are non-refundable.

  1. Cancellation of Album Services by Photographer

In the event Photographer determines, in its sole discretion, that it cannot or will not perform its obligations under this Agreement due to circumstances including, but not limited to, injury, illness, death of family member, pregnancy, military orders, religious obligations, other personal emergencies, or total breakdown of communication with Client, it will:

  1. Immediately give notice to Client;
  2. Issue a refund or credit based on a reasonably accurate percentage of custom album services rendered; and
  3. Excuse Client of any further performance and/or payment obligations under this Agreement.
  1. Sales Tax

Should any sale and/or use tax be imposed on any part of this Agreement, such tax shall be collected from Client and remitted by Photographer. All sales tax will be included on invoices.

  1. Entire Agreement

This is a binding Agreement that incorporates the entire understanding of the Parties, supersedes any other written or oral agreements between the Parties, and any modifications must be in writing, signed by all Parties, and physically attached to the original agreement.

22. Venue and Jurisdiction

This Agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of Washington including all matters of construction, validity, performance, and enforcement and without giving effect to the principles of conflict of laws. The Parties agree that any dispute or lawsuit arising out of, or concerning, this Agreement that is not first resolved by arbitration shall be resolved exclusively in a court of competent jurisdiction located in Whatcom County, Washington. The Parties assume responsibility for their own collection costs and legal fees incurred should enforcement of this Agreement become necessary.

  1. Arbitration

Any and all disputes or disagreements rising between the Parties out of this Agreement upon which an amicable understanding cannot be reached, shall be decided by arbitration in accordance with the procedural rules of the American Arbitration Association. The Parties agree to be bound by the decision of the arbitrator(s). The arbitration proceeding shall take place in Whatcom County, Washington, unless another location is mutually agreed to by the Parties. The cost and expenses of the arbitrators shall be shared equally by the Parties. Each Party shall be responsible for its own costs and expenses in presenting the dispute for arbitration.

  1. Severability & No Waiver

In the event that any part of this Agreement is found to be invalid or unenforceable, the remainder of this Agreement shall remain valid and enforceable. Any failure by one or both Parties to enforce a provision of this Agreement shall not constitute a waiver of any other portion or provision of this Agreement.

  1. Transfer

This Agreement cannot be transferred or assigned to any third-party by either the Photographer or Client without written consent of all Parties. 

  1. Headings

Headings and titles are provided in this Agreement for convenience only and will not be construed as part of this Agreement.

  1. Notice

Parties shall provide effective notice (“Notice”) to each other via email at the date and time which the Notice is sent: Photographer’s Email: [email protected]

  1. Counterparts; Facsimile Signatures 

The Parties agree that a facsimile copy (electronic copy) of this Agreement, which contains the Parties’ signatures, may be used as the original.


By checking the box on this order form and upon completion of purchase, you confirm that you have read, understood, and agree to the terms and conditions of this Agreement.