How to Elope in Joshua Tree National Park in 2023

I’ve always been obsessed with the desert…there’s just something so magical and special about it I can’t quite put my finger on it. As an elopement wedding photographer, Joshua Tree is one of my favorite places in Southern California for elopements, and not to mention it’s only about a 2 hour drive from Los Angeles! The beautiful sunsets, the vast horizons that seem to go for miles, the quirky shops nearby, the super cool Airbnbs; this desert has a lot to offer! With all this beautiful desert has to offer you’re probably wondering how to elope in Joshua Tree National Park? In this guide I will have everything about permits and fees, best times of the year to elope there, accommodations, where to have your ceremony, and more!

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Permits and Fees for Eloping in Joshua Tree National Park

Eloping in Joshua Tree requires the correct permits which you need to pay a small fee for! 

Special Use Permit: This permit is required in order to get married in Joshua Tree National Park. You can apply for it HERE

Photography Permit: This permit is required on top of the special use permit for photography purposes. You can apply for it HERE

Park Entrance Fee: All National Parks require entrance fees. It’s a $30 fee per vehicle so if you have guests for your elopement keep this in mind. The pass is valid for up to 7 days so you can re-enter the park.

Marriage License: You’ll need to get a California marriage license since Joshua Tree National Park is in the state of California. You can pick up the license in any county in the state, even if it’s not in the same county you’re having your elopement. For more information on marriage licenses you can go HERE.

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When to Elope in Joshua Tree National Park

Time of Year: Since Joshua Tree is a desert and can reach past 100 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s wise to pick a cooler time of the year such as spring (March through May) and fall (September through November). Since these months in the park will be a popular time to visit I highly recommend trying to have your ceremony Monday-Thursday or a Sunday to avoid crowds and have a more private elopement. 

Time of Day: I always recommend having your ceremony either during sunrise or sunset to get those dreamy golden hour photos! Not only will this help you avoid the heat, but it will also help avoid crowds.

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Where to Have Your Joshua Tree Elopement

There’s several locations in the park where you can legally have your elopement ceremony. They’re all beautiful and if you have the opportunity to check them out in person beforehand I recommend doing that. If you don’t have the option of going in person then your elopement photographer can help you with that! 

You can get married at these year round:

  • Cap Rock
  • Live Oak
  • Split Rock
  • Rattlesnake Picnic Area

Hidden Valley Picnic Area and Quail Springs Picnic Area are also available year round except March through May. These two areas are personally some of my favorites to photograph!

Places to Stay for Your Joshua Tree Elopement

One of the best parts of Joshua Tree is all the cute Airbnb’s it has to offer! I’ve found so many unique ones so you’re bound to find one that matches your own personal style. While you can’t stay in the actual park unless you’re camping there’s so many hotel and Airbnb options. I highly recommend staying in an Airbnb because they also make the perfect getting ready location or even to host a reception dinner after (just double check you can host an event there). Not to mention they’re some really aesthetic ones! 

Here’s a list of some of my favorite Airbnb’s in Joshua Tree:


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Getting to Joshua Tree National Park 

The nearest airport to Joshua Tree National Park is the Palm Springs airport, but there are also a few other airports nearby that you can fly into. Depending on the size of the airport prices might be better at others. Keep in mind, smaller airports like Palm Springs also have less flights and it’s possible there could be flight delays. 

Here’s a list of airports near Joshua Tree:

  • Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) – 1 to 1.5 hours away
  • Ontario International Airport (ONT) – 1.5 to 2 hours away
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) – 3 to 4 hours away
  • San Diego International Airport (SAN) – 3 to 4 hours away

Public transportation is very limited around Joshua Tree so I highly recommend renting a car if you’re not driving to the park. You can rent one from the airport or from apps like Turo. The roads are paved throughout the park and area accessible with any car. However, if you’re looking to have a fun off-roading Adventure there’s trails in the park for that so you can rent a cool off-roading vehicle like a Jeep! 

Joshua Tree Elopement Packages

Joshua Tree National Park is one of my favorite local places to photograph elopements! This place truly has a special place in my heart. It has so many unique things to offer for your elopement! As your elopement photographer, I’d love to get to know you as a couple and help you plan your dream day. Contact me for more info on California elopement packages I offer! 

elopement photographer joshua tree national park elopement


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