death valley elopement

Death valley is a unique and stunning location for an elopement. There are a lot of things to consider, such as seasons, crowds, permits, and what locations you’re allowed to have an elopement at. This elopement guide is going to cover exactly how to elope in Death Valley as well as stunning Death Valley elopement locations.

Where is Death Valley

Death Valley is located in Southern California, close to the border of Nevada. If you’re flying in from out of state, the closest airport is the Furnace Creek Airport. It’s only a 19 minute drive from the park. You can also fly into the McCarran International Airport. This is about a two hour drive from the park! Either way, a rental car is a smart choice for being able to get around and explore the National Park.

When to Elope in Death Valley

The best time to elope in Death Valley National Park is winter. However, each season brings different things, and it’s important to know about how they all look so you can choose a time of the year that feels right to you and your partner.


Spring comes early in Death Valley. Average temps in March are well within the 80’s. Not to mention, there’s a ton of people visiting the park during “spring break” this time of year. It is definitely going to be a lot more crowds in the spring.


Summer is easily well over 100 degrees every single day. I highly recommend not picking this time of year for an elopement. It can be dangerous to spend too much time outside in this type of heat. Even at night, the temps remain at around 91 degrees.


Fall is a good time to elope in Death Valley National Park. Crowds aren’t as bad as in spring, and you’re beginning to see slightly cooler temps. September and October are both still in the high 90’s (even the 100’s sometimes) so November is the best time of year, at around 70 degrees on average.


Personally, I think winter is the best time to elope in Death Valley National Park. You’re not going to be seeing a ton of crowds, even though the park does remain popular in the winter due to still being a warm temp. November through February are all nice months, with temps between the 60’s and 70’s.

death valley elopement

Death Valley Wedding Permit

You will need a special use permit to get married in Death Valley National Park. The permit is $300. You can find information on how to apply for the permit, as well as rules and regulations for special events, on their website here. You will need to apply for your permit at LEAST 30 days in advance. However, I recommend trying to get it earlier for peace of mind.

How to Get a Death Valley Marriage License

Getting a marriage license for an elopement in Death Valley is easy and straightforward. You do not need to be a resident of California to get a marriage license here. You will need to apply online through a clerks county office local to California. The closest one to Death Valley National Park is the Inyo Clerk County.

After you’ve applied online, you will both need to appear in person with valid ID’s to pick up your marriage license and pay the $57 fee. There is no waiting period to use your marriage license, so once you pick it up, you’re all set to use it and get married!

How to Elope in Death Valley

You plan a Death Valley elopement in similar ways as you’d plan any adventure elopement. There are a few major steps, and you can read about those here on my thorough guide on how to elope. For this Death Valley elopement guide, I’m going over the major things you’ll need to consider!


This is an imperative part of the planning process for elopements. This is because some guests won’t have the hiking ability, some might not be able to be in the heat, and other locations have a cap on the amount of guests you’re having. Choosing a location will be much easier once you’ve determine who you’re inviting, and how many guests total you’ll have.


This might feel early in the planning process, but bear with me. Elopements don’t have wedding planners. Most elopement photographers have taken it upon themselves to help couples with some of the planning. Many actually help you find your location! And they will think of things you might not have considered, such as: lighting, elevation, difficulty in hiking in a dress, permits, and so much more.

Each elopement photographer offers something different. Personally, I send my couples a customized list of locations based on their preferences, hiking ability, who they want to invite, and what they want to see. I also help them determine lodging options, get permits, get their marriage license, recommend vendors, and create a comprehensive day of timeline, and offer unlimited guidance calls for any questions along the way.

The being said, hiring your Death Valley elopement photographer early is going to take a massive amount of planning stress off of your shoulders. Wanna chat? Contact me here!


This is going to help you choose a date. Decide what type of weather is the most ideal to you, and think look into what each season brings to Death Valley. Once you find a time of the year that aligns with the weather you want to be in, you’ll be able to pick a date easily.


Once you’ve decided on how much you’d like to hike, how many guests are coming, your ideal weather, and the landscapes you want, you’re ready to deep dive into researching Death Valley elopement locations. Finding the perfect spot will be a lot simpler after considering all of your needs and logistics.

This is information I collect from my couples through a questionnaire, and then use to make a customized list of Death Valley elopement location options for them.


Once you have your location, it’s time to consider if there’s anything you need vendors for. Do you need any event rentals? Do you want a friend or family to officiate, or do you want to hire an officiant? Will you go out to eat, or do you want something catered, like a meal at an Airbnb from a private chef?

Figure out what extra services you may want, and hire your vendors in advance!


You will need to get the correct permits for your elopement. These are usually “special use” permits that you apply for on the National Parks website, or National Forest/BLM website.

Personally, I get all permit information for my eloping couples that hire me. With that, all you need to do is fill out the application when it’s sent to you and pay the fee. Fee’s vary, but are usually around $150 or less.


Activities are such a fun part of an elopement. When you choose to elope, you’re opening yourself up to having a wedding day celebration that feels unique and resonates with you. Incorporate things that will elevate your elopement day experience. Here’s just a few ideas to get you brainstorming:

  • Going on a hike
  • Having a bonfire
  • Star-gazing or astrophotography
  • Camping
  • Glamping
  • Hiring a private chef
  • Hot air balloon ride
  • Sightseeing
  • Scenic driving with time to stop for pictures
  • Exchanging gifts
  • Reading letters from friends or family


Making a timeline is an important part of any elopement. It strings together all of your locations, activities, and lets guests know where to be and when. Creating a well thought out timeline will help you feel relaxed during the day, instead of stressed or rush. Make sure to include drive times as well as buffer times between each “event.”

Here are the things I include in the timelines I make for my couples:

  • All addresses
  • Sunrise time
  • Sunset time
  • Drive times
  • A linke to Accuweather
  • A list of all names for group shots
  • Vendor info
  • Emergency contact info
  • A packing list

Lodging in Death Valley National Park

Lodging is important when it comes to elopements. A lot of couples incorporate their lodging into aspects of their wedding day. For example, getting ready + getting ready photos, a first look, an intimate reception with friends, a dinner made by a private chef, etc. Once you’ve decided what you’ll incorporate in your day, pick a location that will allow everything you want to include.

If you want to host an intimate reception, I highly recommend a vacation rental such as a cabin or an Airbnb. You can also stay at hotels, resorts, chalets, campgrounds, etc. Here are some amazing lodging options near Death Valley National Park

How Much Does it Cost to Elope in Death Valley

With a special use permit of $300 and a marriage license of $57, it costs $357 to elope in Death Valley National Park. That being said, most couples spend an average of $5000-$20,000 on their elopement. This includes flights, lodging, permits, vendors, wedding attire, meals, and anything extra a couple might want.

Death Valley Elopement Locations

Artist’s Palette

death valley elopement

This Death Valley elopement location is my favorite, and beyond stunning. Let me just say, this photo is what it ACTUALLY looks like. Especially at sunset, the colors glow and are absolutely gorgeous. A great choice for a winter elopement as this spot can be a bit popular!

Badwater Basin

This location looks a lot like the famous salt flats in Utah. It’s incredibly unique geography and beyond stunning with the mountains in the background. It’s also not a far drive for Artist’s Palette, and you could easily include both locations in your day!

Mesquite Sand Dunes

death valley elopement

Another absolute favorite of mine. This Death Valley elopement location is just so unique, and you can do so much with it. It is my favorite at sunrise and sunset. This is also a popular spot, so I would again consider this location in the winter!

Zabriskie Point

death valley elopement

This Death Valley elopement location gives you all of the awesome rock formations you can only get within this park, while also getting some stunning views of the Sierra Nevadas in the background. This is a great choice for couples who also want mountains in their photos!

Darwin Falls

death valley elopement

Who doesn’t love a water feature in the heat of the desert? This Death Valley elopement location is for couples feeling adventurous, and want to embark on a six mile round trip hike. Your wedding attire is likely to get dirty and a bit wet. If you’re up for it, this would be an incredible place to get photos or tie the knot

Father Crowley’s Vista Point

death valley elopement

This is a really cool location if you want sweeping views of the park. This place is especially beautiful during sunset. Not to mention, it’s an easy 1.2 mile hike. You can read more about the trail and see pictures of this stunning Death Valley elopement location here!

Dante’s View Trail

Once again we have insane views of the park here. This Death Valley elopement location is one of my favorites as you’re so high up, being able to see the diverse terrain of the park. Not only that, but it’s only 1 mile, making it an easy to reach ceremony location.

Death Valley Elopement Packages

Elopement photography by Emilee Setting Photo, and everything included in my packages:

  • Explore anywhere within California, all travel fees included in the price!
  • Packages from half day elopements to multi-day elopements
  • Receive a customized location list
  • Help finding lodging that suits your needs if you’re having an intimate reception
  • Included comprehensive timeline design
  • Help obtaining your permits
  • Help obtaining your marriage license
  • A planning checklist
  • Unlimited planning and guidance calls 
  • All of your stunning photos delivered under three months
  • Day of polaroid sneak peeks

Death Valley elopement packages starting at $5800. Want more information on my pricing and what’s included? Click here

death valley elopement

Ready to Elope in Death Valley?

This Death Valley elopement guide is a way to get you excited about all the possibilities of what your day could look like. Although, this amount of information can be overwhelming. I’m here to help. I can answer any and all questions you have on a complimentary low pressure consultation call. If you then choose you’d like to work together, I’ll do all of this planning right by your said to alleviate any stress, and bring your California elopement vision to life. We can chat here!

Don't forget your free elopement planning checklist


You see a stranger’s puppy & it takes everything in you not to run up & cuddle it.

Your dress gets dirt on it, and you shrug.

You think ice cream & wine is always an acceptable dinner option. Always.

You LIVE for the feeling of sunshine on your skin & wind in your hair.

You’re already screaming YASSSS WHERE DO I BOOK YOU?

I'm Emilee

I'm an elopement photographer who specializes in planning, crafting, and documenting untraditional weddings. I believe a wedding day should be filled with traditions that resonate with you. I'm here from start to finish to make that happen. Want to chat about your plans? Click below to set up a free consultation! 

You see a stranger’s puppy & it takes everything in you not to run up & cuddle it.

Your dress gets dirt on it, and you shrug.

You think ice cream & wine is always an acceptable dinner option. Always.

You LIVE for the feeling of sunshine on your skin & wind in your hair.

You’re already screaming YASSSS WHERE DO I BOOK YOU?

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