Location Guides

Joshua Tree National Park Elopement Guide

Joshua Tree National park is probably one of the most unique and popular places to elope for couples. This desert landscape is covered in unique plants and animals. This place is also popular for its night skies and rich cultural history. It’s no wonder so many couples want to plan a Joshua Tree elopement in this Southern California park.

Since so many couples have reached out to us interested in eloping at this park, we thought it would be a great idea to talk about how to elope in Joshua Tree.

How to Elope in Joshua Tree

In this resource:

If you’re thinking about taking your engagement photos here, then we suggest checking out our Joshua Tree engagement photos inspiration. 

Permits and Rules For Joshua Tree Weddings

If you’re sure you want to elope in Joshua Tree, then you’re going to need the appropriate wedding permit. A special use permit is $120, and it’s required for all Joshua Tree wedding ceremonies. Your photographer needs a separate photo permit as well. If you end up not getting a permit, then you’ll get charged a $500 citation fine.  So definitely obtain those permits prior to your wedding day!

You’ll have to designate which Joshua Tree approved wedding location you would like for your elopement ceremony on your application. These locations are on first-request, first-serve basis. Even though you will designate which location you will have your ceremony, you can’t prevent other park visitors from sing your “wedding location”.

Another thing to consider is entrance fees into the park are not waived for yourself and your partner or any guests you may invite even when applying for a wedding permit.

If you’re considering having a Joshua Tree elopement, then you need to know how eco-friendly this park is. A lot of wedding decor and other items are not permitted in the park including drones, dried flowers, non-battery candles, bubbles, any live animals (doves and birds for example), confetti, rice, birdseed, balloons, or smoke bombs.

Items that are Permitted for Your Joshua Tree Wedding Ceremony

“Leave No Trace is very important in Joshua Tree! Be sure to pack out what you bring in. Using faux or wood florals is a good idea in such a unique, protected ecosystem. It’s also a desert, so be sure to bring plenty of water!” [Allie, Photographer]

Below are the current items you may include during your wedding day at Joshua Tree. Please be advised that it’s recommended to list the items you plan on bringing with you on your application. Giving the park a heads up is important to ensure all leave no trace guidelines are being followed properly.

According to the park’s website you can currently bring (and this can change at any time):

  • Arch – must be free-standing and is not permitted to be placed into the ground.
  • Small table for guest book
  • Cooler with water
  • Live or fake flowers only
  • Battery-powered candles
  • Small Runner
  • Small Rug
  • Cake
  • Champagne

If the items you want to bring are NOT on this list, then they are probably not allowed. However, you are more than welcome to reach out to the park and double-check!

When to Elope in Joshua Tree National Park

It gets VERY hot in Joshua Tree during the summer. If you do plan your wedding day during the summer, you’ll also see way bigger crowds. We recommend eloping during cooler months in the Spring, Fall, and Winter. Our Wandering Wedding members also recommend sunrise or sunset elopements here. Joshua Tree elopements during these times are more comfortable in regards to weather and crowds, and the light during these times is stunning. Another recommendation to avoid crowds is to choose a weekday to elope. 

Another cool idea is to work stargazing into your Joshua Tree elopement adventure. Joshua Tree is one of the best places to stargaze in the US and is known as a international dark sky park. The park is located in High Desert, which is 3,000-6,000 feet above sea level. This also means you’re far aware from any cities that would give you light pollution. There are also some pretty cool airbnbs nearby you can stay at and stargaze too!

Check out this super moon elopement at Joshua Tree!

Where to Elope in Joshua Tree

Much like other parks such as Rocky Mountain, Joshua Tree has a selection of locations around the park that are approved for your wedding ceremony. Most of these locations are suited for small weddings or elopements. The only location that will accommodate 100 people would be the Indian Cove Amphitheater. Thus, Joshua Tree is perfect for couples who are looking for an intimate elopement experience

We love Joshua Tree because although each location is relatively similar containing panoramic views, desert landscapes, and rock formations, there is always something unique about each location.

Check out the following locations:

Hidden Valley Picnic Area

This is probably one of the park’s most known hikes. This one-mile trail will take you to a gorgeous valley filled with towering rocks. This is also a beautiful spot for sunset ceremonies.

Ceremony Location Rules: 35 people Max + 8 cars 

Turkey Flats

With a view of Pinto Mountain, this desert plain is wide, sandy, and covered with bushes and grass. This trail is just a little over 2 miles.

Ceremony Location Rules: 35 people Max + 8 cars 

Split Rock

Split Rock is probably one of our favorite locations for your ceremony for the unique rock formations and elevation. This hike is about 2 miles long, and like most hikes in the park, are pretty moderate.

Ceremony Location Rules: 15 people Max + 5 cars

Quail Springs Picnic Area

This small picnic area can be found on the western portion of Park Boulevard. This is also one of the more popular picnic spots after you enter the park from the town of Joshua Tree. If you like rock climbing, there are some easy access spots for beginner friendly routes here.

Ceremony Location Rules: 15 people Max + 8 cars

Check out this elopement ceremony at Quail Springs.

Lost Horse Parking Lot

The parking lot here is a good starting point if you want to later explore the Lost Horse Mine Trail (4 miles out and back). The parking lot itself is small, but could be an awesome accessible spot if planning during the week.

Ceremony Location Rules: 10 people Max + 5 cars

Porcupine Wash

This is probably one of the longest trails in the park. This over 8-mile trail is filled with beautiful wildflowers and so many rock formations.

Ceremony Location Rules: 12 people Max + 4 cars 

Cap Rock

Cap Rock is the shortest trail with some of the most gorgeous views. Under a mile long, you will appreciate huge rock formations and unique desert shrubs. We love these areas for couples who are looking to have rock formations as the main focal point in their ceremony.

Check out this elopement ceremony at Cap Rock.

Ceremony Location Rules: 25 people Max + 8 cars 

Live Oak Picnic Area

This picnic area is nestled among rock formations. You can also get some shade from the oak itself.

Ceremony Location Rules: 5 people Max + 3 cars 

Queen Valley Mine Intersection

This is an open area with a nice view featuring rocky terrain. The trial there is a 3.2 mile out and back hike.

Ceremony Location Rules: 10 people Max + 5 cars 

For a full list of wedding ceremony locations located at Joshua Tree head to their website.Keep in mind that you can also take photos at different locations around the park. We recommend getting together with one of our photographers who has experience at Joshua Tree. They’ll also know the best-hidden spots no one really talks about.

Where to Stay for Your Elopement

One of the best things about planning a Joshua Tree Elopement is the amazing Airbnb’s that are in the area. Please keep in mind, however, these Airbnb venues do book up fast, so we recommend booking fast!

Our members also love AirnBnbs in the area because it’s a great opportunity to get cool getting ready photos or just to stargaze together at the end of the day.

Check out our favorite Airbnbs near Joshua Tree:

High Desert Paradise-Yucca Valley, California

10 guests3 bedrooms5 beds3.5 baths

Book This Airbnb For Your Joshua Tree Elopement

The Stargazer Retreat, Joshua Tree, California

6 guests3 bedrooms3 beds1 bath

Book This Airbnb For Your Joshua Tree Elopement


Looking for more cool Airbnbs for your wedding? Check out our list of Airbnb venues.


Joshua Tree Elopement Vendors

Whether you’re looking for a photographer or videographer who specializes in Joshua Tree elopements, our Wandering Weddings members have your back. These professionals are ideal to help you plan and help you bring your elopement vision to life. 

Explore our featured elopement vendors below to build your Joshua Tree elopement package:

Still not sure where to start your elopement planning? Check out our 7 step guide on how to elope

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