Joshua tree is a gorgeous elopement location and has become a popular spot for small weddings. This is likely due to how unique the landscape is, with Joshua Tree’s only growing in one area in the entire world. This Joshua tree elopement guide is going to cover how to elope in Joshua Tree, and stunning Joshua Tree elopement locations that are both in and outside of the National Park

Where is Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree National park is a desert located in Southern California. It is a little under 3 hours away from San Diego, and two and a half hours away from Los Angelos. The best way to get to Joshua Tree from out of state is by flying into Palm Springs Airport. This airport is small and easy to navigate, and the closest to Joshua Tree National Park

When to Elope in Joshua Tree

The best time to elope in Joshua Tree National park is going to be in the spring or the fall. March-April or October-November. Summertime in Joshua tree is extremely hot, and you don’t want to have to spend the majority of your elopement day trying to escape the heat and burning up. Winter can also be extremely cold, and that’s not typically what couples are looking for when going to the desert.

Not to mention, there is close to no rain or cloud coverage during the spring and fall months. You can except beautiful blue skies, gorgeous sunsets, and weather in the high 70’s, which is one of the perfect temperatures in my humble opinion.

Joshua Tree Wedding Permit

You will need a special use permit through Joshua Tree National Park to be able to have your elopement here. Their website will also walk you through which locations at the park are able to be used by couples for their elopement, how many guests they’re allowed to have, and what things you are and are not allowed to bring your ceremony.

You will also have to pay a non-refundable fee of $120. You can find all of this information here! As an elopement photographer that helps my couples plan, I help you sort out all of the permit information and help you obtain what you need.

How to Get a Marriage License in Joshua Tree

To get a Marriage License in Joshua tree, all you need is to apply through the county that Joshua Tree is located in. (San Bernardino County.) You do not need to be a resident of California to get your marriage license here. You will start the application online, and then you both have to appear in person prior to your elopement ceremony to finish up the paperwork and obtain your marriage license.

San Bernardino Office – (855) 732-2575 | Appointments are required on Mondays and Fridays only; walk-ins are welcome Tuesday-Thursday from 8:00am – 11:00am and 2:00pm – 4:00pm.

Here is where you can start your online application for your marriage license in Joshua Tree

Joshua tree elopement

How to Elope in Joshua Tree

You plan a Joshua Tree 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 Joshua Tree 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 want to drive on sandy back roads, and others might not be able to stay in the heat or sun long. 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 Joshua Tree 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 and location. Joshua tree can have more tourism in some parts of the year than others. And it actually can get colder in the desert than you might imagine. You could also want to try and be there during the time of year when theres a wildflowers bloom, or avoid the desert heat. Considering what type of weather you want to be in will help you nail down a good time of the year for your Joshua Tree elopement.


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 Joshua Tree 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 Joshua Tree 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? Or a desert picnic with refreshing drinks set up by a picnic vendor?

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
  • Helicopter tour (landing on glaciers, mountains, etc)
  • Sightseeing
  • Scenic driving with time to stop for pictures
  • Exchanging gifts
  • Reading letters from friends or family
  • Airbnb pool party


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 Joshua Tree

Lodging for elopements can be extremely important. You won’t have a venue, so that means your rental space is where you’ll get ready and possibly host an intimate reception. You’ll need to consider what you want your day to look like after your ceremony and activities. Do you want a pool party? Would you like somewhere to star gaze? Or are you interested in a small reception somewhere scenic on private property? Or are you eloping solo and want to stay at a resort?

You will also want to pick something close be to your elopement location to make sure you aren’t spending the whole day in the car. National Parks are big, and the speed limits are low. So double check addresses and make sure you’re not to far away. For couples who want to host an intimate reception, I highly recommend going with a rental such as an Airbnb that will allow you to have guests (you always need to check with the host.) Here is a list of hotels, resorts, and Airbnb’s near Joshua Tree!

joshua tree lodging

How Much Does it Cost to Elope in Joshua Tree

A special use permit costs $120 and a marriage license costs 61, so it costs $181.00 to elope in Joshua tree. 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.

Joshua Tree Elopement Locations

There are many Joshua Tree elopement locations to choose from. Many couples choose to elope within the park, but remember, there are plenty of Joshua Tree outside of the park, with stunning hikes and views that receive exponentially less crowds. I help my couples looking for more privacy find these hidden gem locations. They also typically have a lot less restrictions on guests, cars, decor, etc. However, here is a list of the beautiful elopement locations within Joshua Tree National Park

Indian Cove Ampitheatre

This is a beautiful location that is easy to set up an elopement ceremony with more guests, with a breathtaking backdrop behind where you’ll say your vows. This location actually allows up to 100 guests, for couples wanting a bigger guest list.

Hidden Valley Picnic Area

This is a stunning Joshua Tree elopement location. You’re allowed to have some decor here, and you’re able to have up to 35 guests and 8 cars. You might want to consider using a shuttle for your guests, or carpooling.

Turkey Flats

Joshua tree elopement locations

Turkey flats really feels like being out in the middle of the desert. The mountains in the background are gorgeous amongst the desert shrubbery, and is a beautiful Joshua Tree elopement location that allows up to 35 guests.

Quail Springs Picnic Area

Joshua tree elopement locations

Quail Springs is a smaller Joshua Tree elopement location. However, you get all of the same stunning views of the trees, and the rocky terrain. This location only allows up to 15 guests, making it a more intimate location. It’s also a beautiful spot for astro-photography if you want star photos!

Split Rock

Joshua tree elopement locations

Split Rock is Joshua tree elopement location that allows up to 15 guests, and five cars. There’s also a hiking loop nearby that gives some stunning views of the rocks and nearby mountains. This hike is 2.4 miles, making it perfect for couples who would also like to include a hike in their day.

Queen Valley Mine Intersection

Joshua tree elopement locations

This is one of the smaller Joshua Tree elopement locations allowing up to only 10 guests, and 5 cars. However, it’s a good spot to get away from crowds and have something incredibly intimate.

Live Oak Picnic Area

Joshua tree elopement locations

Live Oak is a beautiful Joshua tree elopement location with amazing rock formations and desert shrubbery. Although, there aren’t many actual Joshua Trees in the area. This location also only allows 5 people, as well as 3 cars.

Cap Rock

Joshua tree elopement locations

My absolute favorite Joshua Tree elopement location in the park. Filled with Joshua Trees and stunning rock formations. This location also allows up to 25 people and 8 cars, making it a good choice for couples who want to have a chunk of people at their ceremony.

Joshua Tree 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

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

Ready to Elope at Joshua Tree?

This Joshua Tree 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?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Intimate weddings