California state is one of the MOST incredible, jaw-dropping locations in the entire country! From tall ass trees to rocky beaches to beautiful deserts, it has it ALL. You really can’t go wrong picking it as your elopement location. The only difficult part is choosing WHERE in the state to elope?! Lucky for you I’m giving you 6 of the best places to elope in California. Keep reading to find out which one is your dream California elopement location!
6 of the Best Places to Elope in California
1. Big Sur
Big Sur is one of the most insane spots in the state. If you are a forest lover, ocean lover or sunset lover, you HAVE to consider this location for your ceremony.
Big Sur is a beautiful mountainous section of the coast of Cali between Carmel and San Simeon where the Santa Lucia Mountains begin rising from the ocean.
The landscape in Big sur is SO unique. From redwood forests to rocky coasts covered in flowers, the variety here is unmatched. Succulents cover the coast, turning it a reddish color during most of the year, and that juxtaposed with the bright blue of the water creates the coolest contrast. Everything here is so accessible with beaches and views never more than a few miles hike away. There is a ton of drive up locations to choose from if you aren’t a hiker, and many locations are quite close together if you wanted to hit up a few places during your elopement!
We all think of California of being hot and sunny all year long, but Big sur typically enjoys a mild mediteranean climate. They usually have a sunny, dry summer and autumn and a cool, wet winter. The temp ranges from 50’s to 70’s during the summer and early fall and 40’s to 60’s during the winter and spring. The summer does present a danger of wildfires, so I would recommend planning your elopement during the fall or spring to avoid chance of smoke!
Big Sur Elopement Inspiration
Sarah and Patrick visited Big Sur on their elopement day, check out some of their stunning ceremony photos below!
Joshua tree is a gorgeous desert park in southern California! She has such a unique landscape with so many unique plants and animals throughout the park AND of course, the iconic Joshua trees! EVERYWHERE. They’re all over haha.
Joshua tree is the place know as where two deserts meet. Two desert ecosystems, the Colorado and the Mojave, come together in Joshua Tree. A large variety of plants and animals make their homes in a land sculpted by winds and rain torrents. Joshua tree is located an hour an a half from Palm Springs and 3.5 hours from LA.
Joshua Tree is truly one of the most unique deserts ever. It’s not like the deserts you’ll find anywhere else in the country. Instead, it’s full of Joshua trees, yucca plants, crazy cool rock formations, and the most incredible sunsets. It seriously looks like it’s straight off of a postcard, does it not?!
Joshua Tree has a HOT desert climate. It is becoming hotter and dryer as well due to climate change. The temperature is around the high 50’s in the winter whereas its close to the 100’s in the mid summer. I would suggest a spring, fall or winter elopement here to avoid the heat!
Joshua Tree Elopement Inspiration
Here’s a few pics of some elopements I have captured in Joshua Tree!
3. Palm Springs
If you’re looking for an easily accessible California elopement location with incredible views then this is the place for you!
Palm springs is a desert city in RIverside county, California. Palm springs is location within the COlorado Desert’s Coachella Valley. It is located about 2 hours east of Las Angelas, but it does have its own international airport as well for easy travel.
Palm Springs has so many different beautiful scenery options and is such an amazing spot to vacation! The desert has be dry in places, lush in other places and covered in flowers in others! Palm springs has a variety of plants that cover the landscape from cactus to Joshua trees to palm trees!
The average temperature in Palm springs is between 100-120 in the mid summer so I would DEFINITELY suggest visiting November-March to keep the heat to a manageable level! The temp is 60’s-80’s during the winter which is generally a much more comfortable temperature to elope in!
Palm Springs Elopement Inspiration
Natalie + Lawrence visited Palm Springs on their elopement day. We got some bomb ass couples portraits in the SUN. Take a look at these cuties below!
4. Glamis Dunes
Glamis dunes is located in the southeast corner of the state. The Imperial Sand Dunes are also the biggest mass of sand dunes in California!
Glamis Dunes is located 4 hours from the LAX airport and 2.5 hours from the San Diego Airport! Glamis is located off of Highway 78 between Blythe and Brawley.
The sand dunes in this place are UNREAL. They go on as far as you can see, and are great for off-roading, hiking and obviously eloping!
The temperature in glamis ranged from 60’s to 100’s based on the time of year. In July, the days are hotter, around 100-110 whereas in the winter its around 70’s during the day.
Glamis Dunes Elopement Inspiration
Claire and Jordan ran around the dunes at sunset on their elopement day! How much prettier could it get?
5. Death Valley
This park is a desert valley in Eastern California, and its located in the northern Mojave Desert. During the summer, it is one of the hottest places on Earth, comparable with deserts in the Middle East and the Sahara. SHEEEEEESH. It’s hot, y’all!
Death Valley National Park is a desert valley located in northeast California. The park is located 2.5 hours from the Las Vegas airport as the closest airport.
Despite its rather morbid name, a large diversity of life actually thrives in Death valley! Even though it is below sea level, occasionally the mountains are peaked in snow or fields of wildflowers. This park is a land of the extremes, but there’s a lot of beauty in the extremes I think. I’m obsessed with the crazy rock formations, the salt flats and the colorful dunes that exist in this park!
So its HOT hot here you guys. Summer temperatures often top 120°F in the shade with overnight lows dipping into the 90s°F, omg. Average rainfall is less than 2 inches, which is just a FRACTION of what most deserts receive. Occasional thunderstorms, especially in late summer, can cause flash floods though so watch out!
Death Valley Elopement Inspiration
Finally, let’s talk about Yosemite. This is another popular location for elopements because it is STUNNING. Yosemite National Park is in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains and its known for its tall trees, waterfalls and AMAZING views!
Yosemite is a 2.5 hour drive from the Fresno airport, which is the closest airport!
Yosemite is CHOCK FULL of huge granite rocks and remnants of older rock. Apparently about 10 milly years ago, the seirra nevada was tilted to for its unique slopes which resulted in deep canyons. Then like a million years ago, the glaciers formed and melted which cut and formed the u-shaped valley that we know and love. Yosemite is basically two layers. The lower layer is the valley with its waterfalls and fields and rivers, and the upper layer is from the rim of the canyon with its stunning views and hikes! If you want to elope in the winter, you’ll probably want to focus on the lower valley as your California elopement location!
So Yosemite gets pretty cold in the winter and even snows sometimes! The temp ranges from 8-48 degrees november to february, but in the summer it warms up 90 degrees at the hottest! I usually suggest going here before May or after september because she gets crowdedddddd in the summer months!
Yosemite Elopement Inspiration
I did an adventure session with Giana + Brian where we had a freakin’ blast exploring Taft point! We got classic yosemite sunset with clouds, epic skies, and also rain – it was suchhh a stunning evening with these two.
And with that – happy location-picking! Let me know if you need a talented, experienced photog to tag along with y’all and help you pick your dream California elopement location! 😉