Joshua Tree Elopement | How to Plan a Dreamy Desert Wedding

Joshua Tree Elopement | How to Plan a Dreamy Desert Wedding

Joshua Tree elopement planning guide

Why having a JOSHUA TREE elopement is so incredible

From giant rock formations to stunning desert landscapes, having a Joshua Tree elopement is absolutely surreal. The minute you arrive at the vast national park, you’re transported to a landscape that is unlike any place you’ve ever seen before. The namesake Joshua Trees welcome you with their spikey branches topped with what looks like mini palm trees. Don’t let the arid desert fool you; Joshua Tree National Park is home to over 750 plant species, 52 mammal species, and at least 250 bird species. Needless to say, there will be endless sightseeing during your elopement!

We have been living and traveling on the road for the last four years and Joshua Tree National Park has always stood out to us as one of the best places to elope. 


jump to our most asked questions about eloping in joshua tree:

Where are the best places to elope in Joshua Tree?

How do I elope in Joshua Tree?

When is the best time to elope in Joshua Tree?

How much does it cost to elope in Joshua Tree?

A group of elopement photographers and planners

You’re looking for the best advice to plan your Joshua Tree elopement and we happen to be experts on the matter…

We’re a team of dog loving, peak bagging, photography award winning adventure junkies – working together to help plan and document incredible Washington elopements.

Together we’ve photographed 300+ elopements and we know how to make your Joshua Tree elopement incredible! This is our quick tips and best advice on everything you need to know for your wedding in Joshua Tree.

Here's everything you need to know about your 
Joshua TREE elopement

Keep these pro tips in mind when planning out the best place to elope for your wedding day:

1. How do you elope in Joshua TREE NATIONAL PARK?

To get married in Joshua Tree National Park, you will need to obtain a marriage license through the state of California. There are two types of marriage licenses available: a public marriage license and a confidential marriage license, which you can learn more about on California Department of Public Health’s website. Both marriage licenses are valid for 90 days after being issued and range from $60 – $100+ depending on the where in California you apply for your marriage license. You can get your marriage license from any county in California, even if it’s not the same one you’re eloping in. If you’re traveling from out of state, the San Bernardino County Clerk’s Office is the closest to Joshua Tree National Park and they have a couple of different locations available.

Specific you eloping in Joshua Tree National Park, you will need apply for a “Special Use Permit” (SUP) at least 30 days in advance of your desired wedding date, which involves filling out a form online and submitting a permit fee of $120. The permit does not cover your photographer or videographer, so they will need to obtain a separate SUP for your wedding day. 

Different areas of Joshua Tree National Park have various limitations on the number of guests that can attend your wedding as well as where you can have your ceremony, so make sure to chat with your photographer (we help with all this stuff!) to get the Special Use Permit details for your Joshua Tree elopement.

2. When is the best time to elope in Joshua TREE?

Joshua Tree National Park is in the desert which means it gets very hot during the summer 🥵 so to that avoid sweaty wedding day vibe, we recommend eloping here November through May. And the best thing about visiting during the fall and winter, this is considered the down season for traveling here. During these seasons, there are usually less crowds and tourists, making it easier to find privacy on your wedding day! 

If you’re looking for an extra pop of color on your wedding day, travel to Joshua Tree in March or April when the wildflowers are in full bloom! *Ask us about our spring discount for eloping in Joshua Tree*

3. How much does it cost to elope in Joshua TREE?

It’s important to consider how much it costs to elope in Joshua Tree and what your budget is. Because there are many elopement specific vendors in Joshua Tree, Special Use fees are relatively low, and it’s an easy place to travel to (just 2.5 hours east of Los Angeles), Joshua Tree state is one of the more affordable options for an elopement. The total cost of your wedding day depends on how lavish you want to go with lodging and styling for your day-of, but here’s a quick breakdown of what to expect.

Photographer $5,000-$10,000 | Hair & Makeup $600-$1,000 | Flowers $400-$800 | Officiant & License $600-$1,200 | Marriage License and Special Use Permit $180 | Lodging $400-$1,200 | Flights & Car Rental $500-$800 

The best places to elope in 

From giant rock formations to stunning desert landscapes, having a Joshua Tree elopement is absolutely surreal. The minute you arrive at the vast national park, you’re transported to a landscape that is unlike any place you’ve ever seen before. The namesake Joshua Trees welcome you with their spikey branches topped with what looks like mini palm trees. Don’t let the arid desert fool you; Joshua Tree National Park is home to over 750 plant species, 52 mammal species, and at least 250 bird species. Needless to say, there will be endless sightseeing during your elopement! We have been living and traveling on the road for the last four years and Joshua Tree National Park has always stood out to us as one of the best places to elope.



Located just 25 minutes from the town of Joshua Tree, Hidden Valley Picnic Area is the quintessential JTree landscape experience with big granite boulders and towering Joshua Trees. With ample shade and numerous picnic tables, this area of Joshua Tree is an ideal location to get married, especially if you plan on inviting guests to your elopement. 

Something to keep in mind is that the National Park Service does limit weddings at Hidden Valley Picnic Area to 35 people and up to 8 vehicles.

Learn more about Hidden Valley Picnic Area on the National Park Service’s website.

2. Turkey flats

Turkey Flats is a wide open desert plain with native brush and plants. In the distance, you can see Pinto Mountain, creating a beautiful backdrop for taking wedding photos. This also is a great place to come in March and April when the wildflowers are blooming in Joshua Tree!

If you plan to elope at the Turkey Flats, be aware that the National Park Service does limit weddings to 35 people and up to 8 vehicles.

Learn more about Turkey Flats on the National Park Service’s website.

3. Cap Rock

Cap Rock is located near the central part of Joshua Tree and is famous for its large monzogranite rock formations. We looove photographing here as a part of our sunrise + sunset elopement package because the illumination on the rocks from the sun is absolutely stunning!

Like other areas of Joshua Tree, Cap Rock does limit the size of groups here to 25 people and 8 vehicles.

Learn more about Cap Rock on the National Park Service’s website.

4. Rattlesnake picnic area

Rattlesnake Picnic Area is an epic spot for elopements with the cascading rock formations everywhere you look. 

If traveling here for your elopement, keep in mind that groups are limited to 20 people and 8 vehicles.

Learn more about Cap Rock on the National Park Service’s website.

5. quail springs picnic area

Quail Springs Picnic Area is a popular spot in Joshua Tree, as it’s located near the entrance of the park when you enter if coming from the town of Joshua Tree. The sights are beautiful here and you’ll get a mix of bouldering rocks, Joshua Trees, and everything in between.

Like other areas of Joshua Tree, Quail Springs Picnic Area does limit the size of groups here to 15 people and 5 vehicles.

Learn more about Quail Springs Picnic Area on the National Park Service’s website.

6. split rock

Split Rock is jam-packed with unique sights to see, even a rock that looks like the face of a mummy! The area itself has a mixture of both flat land and rocky formations, allowing for lots of exploration!

Split Rock does limit the size of groups here to 15 people and 5 vehicles.

Learn more about Split Rock on the National Park Service’s website.

7. porcupine wash

From rock formations to flat basins to wildflowers, Porcupine Wash has all of the Joshua Tree essentials. And, if you do head here, be sure to check out the nearby Cholla cactus garden for amazing sights, especially in the spring when the wildflowers are blooming! 

Porcupine Wash has a smaller limit for the number of guests can attend: your group must be 10 people or less and only 4 vehicles are allowed.

See where Porcupine Wash is on a map!

8. queen valley mine intersection

Taking after its name, the Queen Valley Mine Intersection area of Joshua Tree National Park is located near where a fully-operating gold mine once stood! The views here are breathtaking and you can tie a little bit of history into your wedding day! 

Group size is limited here, as the max number of people allowed is 10 with 5 vehicles.

See where Queen Valley Mine Intersection is on a map!

9. lost horse picnic area

Lost Horse Picnic Area is also located near an old gold mine that once stood in Joshua Tree National Park. If you like to hike, then this is a great spot for your elopement! The trail itself is about 7 miles long and you will see plenty of rock formations, native bushes, and Joshua Trees.

If traveling to Lost Horse Picnic Area, your group must be 10 people or less and only 5 vehicles are allowed. 

See where Lost Horse Picnic Area is on a map!

10. live oak picnic area

Live Oak Picnic Area does not boast a ton of Joshua Trees, but the bouldering rocks are so impressive that you won’t even notice! This is a favorite place to get married amongst many and we couldn’t agree more!

Like other areas of Joshua Tree, Cap Rock does limit the size of groups here to 25 people and 8 vehicles.

Learn more about Live Oak Picnic Area on the National Park Service’s website.

There you have it, the best places to elope in joshua tree!

We’re Gabi and Brandon (aka the Foxes) and Hannah and Zoe. Together we make the Foxpack – a team of adventure elopement photographers. Together we’ve shot over 300 elopements (and counting) and are experts on planning and documenting epic days for our couples. We can help guide you through the nitty gritty details of your dream adventure elopement!

Elopement Photography team group photo

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. 



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