The picturesque desert views, giant rock formations, and unique vegetation of Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave desert make it one of the best places to elope in California. The park is located in Southern California, just east of Palm Springs, and sits between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. If you imagine a bohemian intimate wedding with all the desert vibes, this is the place for you to elope. The national park is an even greater option for those who truly want the outdoors as their venue. We created this Joshua Tree elopement guide as a resource to help walk you through the important things to know for your Joshua Tree National Park elopement and inspire your elopement planning!
The Joshua Tree area is hot and dry throughout the year and can reach temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. We highly suggest having your elopement between the months of either March to May or October to November when temperatures are around 85 degrees. Joshua Tree National Park is an open desert and doesn’t offer shelter from the sun or wind and rain, apart from the large rock formations.
To be prepared, consider what you’ll need to bring with you. Have plenty of water during the hot season, and bring layers for the cold season. Even in the late spring months, it can be very cold in the mornings. Opting for the winter months can give you the chance of witnessing some snowfall at the higher elevation areas in the park! Or, if you want the opportunity to admire wildflowers in the spring months but avoid crowds, aim to have your elopement on a weekday and, if possible, at sunrise.
If you are flying into the area, Palm Springs International airport is the closest airport with a drive of approximately 45 minutes. Here is a brief list to give you an idea of how far other cities and places are from Joshua Tree (sourced from Just Ahead):
A “Special Use Permit” is required for any size wedding (must be less than 25 people). All you have to do is fill out the application and pay the $120 permit fee. Be sure to submit it at least 30 days prior to the date you want.
Unlike other National Parks in California, the Special Use Permit for Joshua Tree does not cover your photographer or videographer.
Click here to view the park’s permit information.
Whether it is just you two celebrating or you’re bringing a few guests along, these are the best locations where you can legally have a ceremony in Joshua Tree National Park:
Joshua Tree has an incredible market for Airbnb stays. From unique airstream experiences to open ceiling bedrooms meant for stargazing, this quirky desert town has it all.
If approved by the host, you could even have your ceremony where you are staying and then photograph your wedding portraits in the park (photo/video permits would still be required)!
If the time of year you choose doesn’t have extreme weather, camping in the park would be a rad way to celebrate your elopement! There are multiple sites with different views and elevations. You can reserve your campsite up to 6 months in advance. There are some first-come, first-serve campsites, but it can be unpredictable and competitive to grab a spot.
You can check out the park’s camping information here.
Booking a bed and breakfast or hotel in Palm Springs is another great option, especially if you pick up flowers or get your hair done before your ceremony. Many of our eloping couples who invite guests prefer to stay in Palm Springs, so there are lots to do for their guests within a short drive. Many Airbnb stays in Palm Springs typically have a mid-century modern design with pool floaties galore.
Another idea: You can elope in Palm Springs and have your portraits done in the park!
If you’re considering having hair and makeup, florals, or an officiant, hire local vendors in the area to help avoid travel fees. We recommend searching for vendors in Joshua Tree, Yucca Valley, Twentynine Palms, and Palm Springs.
For a unique elopement experience, we recommend making at least a half-day of your epic desert wedding. We have Joshua Tree elopement photography packages beginning at 2 hours of coverage or half-day and full-day coverage for couples wanting a bigger adventure or for those bringing a few guests along with them.
And that’s about it! If you enjoyed this article and are curious about eloping in other national parks, we have a full guide on how to elope in a national park!
We are Sydney and Ryan Kroll, a husband and wife adventure elopement photographer and videographer team. We are currently based in Joshua Tree, California, but travel for work and leisure throughout the US and beyond. Our work is best described as candid, true to color, storytelling that blends images of love and natural beauty in the great outdoors.