How to elope

Where to elope



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Ultimate Joshua Tree National Park Elopement Guide

Table of Contents:

couple sitting together desert landscape

I don’t know about you but I’m ready for winter to be OVER and to get some sunnnn here in Washington. That’s why I’m going to pretend I’m in the warm California climate rn and I’m going to tell you all about how to elope in Joshua Tree National Park!! It’s one of the freaking best elopement destinations in California if you’re wanting to plan an epic desert elopement, and has SO many amazing opportunities for everyone, no matter what level of adventure you’re looking for. Come along with me

couple kissing joshua tree national park landscape

Where is Joshua Tree National Park?

Joshua Tree National Park is located in the warm southern California desert, straddling the line between the Colorado Desert & the Mojave Desert. It’s about an hour east of Palm Springs and 2.5 hours east of Los Angeles, and the airport closest to the park is Palm Springs International Airport (PSP)

Joshua Tree is famous for its unique rock formations, teddy bear cholla cacti, and its wide-open desert landscape that sooo many outdoor enthusiasts love! The park and its surrounding areas offer amazing opportunities for camping, stargazing, hiking, rock climbing, & so much more. Whether you sleep under the stars in a tent out in the desert oasis or you book a luxurious Airbnb where you can relax in a hot tub under the night skies, this place is pretty close to heaven on Earth.

couple holding each other desert landscape

Best Time of Year to Elope in Joshua Tree

While you can elope at Joshua Tree at any time of year, the park gets so hot and dry in the summer that it can be kinda unpleasant. I recommend eloping in Joshua Tree between March-May or October-November, when the temperatures are still nice and warm but not crazy hot! You’ll probably also run into fewer crowds during these months, since the majority of tourists visit during the summer. But if you do want to elope at Joshua Tree in the summer, make sure you’re prepared for the heat + to have to do a little more exploring in order to find privacy. 

couple walking together desert landscape

What to Wear for Your Joshua Tree Elopement

Because Joshua Tree is an iconic desert that embodies EVERYTHING warm, boho, and free-spirited, it would only make sense to wear a boho-style elopement outfit for your big day!! 

(You don’t have to, of course, but boho outfits definitely fit the vibe of the setting and are perfect if you want to have a true desert-themed elopement.)

I recommend choosing outfits made of lightweight materials if possible, because of how hot Joshua Tree gets – you want to minimize your sweat as much as possible on your elopement day! If you’re wearing a dress, opt for one without a ton of thick layers, and one that’s flowy, breathable, and easy to move around in.

couple holding vows

Check out this guide for all my best tips when it comes to choosing your elopement dress!

I photographed a few couples in Joshua Tree recently and they all KILLED it with their outfits, so here’s some Joshua Tree elopement outfit inspo for ya – I think the pics say it all!

Make sure you also wear shoes that will be comfortable & will keep you safe as you explore the rocky, sandy terrain of Joshua Tree. I know heels are cute but hiking boots can be JUST as cute, I promise!! Be sure to look at my guide to the Best Hiking Elopement Boots if you’re not sure what to choose.

Joshua Tree Elopement Locations

Because Joshua Tree has become suuuper popular for elopements in recent years, the park now has a specific list of spots in the park where you can hold your ceremony. You can take informal portraits anywhere in the park, though!

Here are the permitted Joshua Tree elopement ceremony locations along with how many people & vehicles are allowed at each location:

couple reading vows joshua tree national park landscape

Joshua Tree National Park Wedding & Elopement Permits

Do I need a permit to elope at Joshua Tree National Park?

Yep! Just like any other national park in the U.S., you’ll need a Special Use Permit to elope at Joshua Tree National Park. If you hold your elopement in the park without getting the appropriate permit, you’ll be subject to a citation fine up to $500, sooo you definitely don’t want to skip over this part!

How much does it cost to elope at Joshua Tree National Park?

The application for a wedding Special Use Permit at Joshua Tree National Park includes a non-refundable $120 fee, and additional fees may be required depending on how big your wedding is & what location you choose.

What can I bring to my Joshua Tree elopement?

Here’s a list of what’s allowed & not allowed for weddings and elopements at Joshua Tree National Park:


  • Free-standing arch
  • Small table
  • Live flowers
  • Battery-powered candles
  • Runner
  • Rug
  • Cake
  • Champagne

Not allowed:

  • Drones
  • Dried flowers
  • Non-battery-powered candles
  • Bubbles
  • Live animals
  • Confetti/rice/birdseed
  • Balloons
  • Smoke bombs

How do I apply for a Joshua Tree National Park wedding permit?

Here’s how to apply for your Joshua Tree wedding Special Use Permit:

  1. Fill out this application form
  2. Email your completed application to 
  3. Wait for instructions from the park on how to pay your $120 non-refundable application fee
  4. If your request is approved, you’ll receive a permit that you need to sign & return for final approval

Do I have to pay to park at Joshua Tree National Park?

Yep, in addition to getting a Special Use Permit for your Joshua Tree elopement, you’ll need to pay the regular park entry fee. You can buy a 7-day vehicle permit for $30, or an annual pass for $55 if you plan to visit the park more than once in the following 12 months! You can buy your pass either in person at one of the park entrance stations or visitor centers, or online at

couple holding each other joshua tree national park landscape

Getting Your California Marriage License

Along with getting your Joshua Tree-specific permits and passes, you’ll also need to follow the process of getting a legal California marriage license in order to elope in Joshua Tree.

Here are the basic California marriage laws you should know:

  • Age requirement: 18
  • License is valid for: 90 days
  • Required waiting period: None
  • Blood test required? No
  • Witnesses: 1 witness required

To get your marriage license through San Bernardino County (where Joshua Tree is located), follow the steps below:

  1. Complete the marriage license application online
  2. Book your in-person appointment online
  3. Review your marriage ceremony options with the county
  4. Receive your license in-person at your appointment

You can find more info about marriage licenses in San Bernardino County here!!

couple holding each other joshua tree national park landscape

10 Best Airbnbs for Your Joshua Tree Elopement

Guys there are TOO MANY amazing Airbnbs in Joshua Tree for me to be able to include them all – so I tried to narrow it down as best I could!! 

Joshua Tree is literally heaven on Earth for couples who want all the warm, desert bohemian vibes, because pretty much every Airbnb in the area has been beautifully designed to embody that aesthetic. Seriously, you’ll never want to leave these places. Most of them have not only gorgeous indoor spaces but also cozy outdoor spaces where you can enjoy the desert weather by a fire or in a hot tub at night🔥And there are tons of Airbnbs that are super close to the national park!

Here are some of the most amazing Airbnbs for your Joshua Tree elopement:

  1. Ravenrock Luxury Desert Retreat
  2. Home in Twentynine Palms
  3. The Tumbleweed
  4. Palms Pool House
  5. The Full Moon
  6. Mid-Century Style Desert Oasis
  7. Desert Retreat
  8. Halcyon Hideaway
  9. The Sowe
  10. El Paso 29
couple kissing

5 Fun Ideas for Your Joshua Tree Elopement

Joshua Tree has sooo many amazing things to do nearby, so you should def include some time in your itinerary to just explore the area & do some fun activities. 

Here are 5 fun Joshua Tree elopement ideas to make the best of your time in this amazing desert!!

  1. Spend a day in Palm Springs
  2. Go rock climbing
  3. Hike to Fortynine Palms Oasis
  4. Take cute elopement photos in front of Heart Rock
  5. Take the scenic drive up to Keys View
couple kissing

Final Joshua Tree Elopement Tips

Before we wrap this up, I wanted to give you a few last tips for your Joshua Tree elopement based on my experience + what else you should know!

1. Book a dog-friendly Airbnb if you want to bring your dogs along

Unfortunately, pets aren’t allowed in Joshua Tree National Park. Have a friend stay with them at your Airbnb while you explore the area or bring a crate with you that you can leave at the Airbnb while you’re out!

2. Bring lotsss of water with you

Joshua Tree can get soooo hot and dry, so it’s really easy to get dehydrated faster than you might think. Make sure you bring multiple water bottles to you when you have your elopement ceremony or whenever you’re exploring the park/hiking!

3. Be prepared to not have cell service

There’s no cell service in most of the park, so make sure you let friends/family know where you’re at and when you expect to be home, anytime you’re out exploring the park. You won’t be able to livestream your ceremony to any of your loved ones who couldn’t make it, so plan to Facetime/call them back at your Airbnb or at another point during your elopement. And you can always bring a handheld GPS if you want to be extra safe so that somebody can be tracking your location!

4. Get familiar with the Leave No Trace principles

It’s super important to Leave No Trace wherever you have your elopement, whether you’re in the desert, the mountains, the forest, etc. I recommend reading this guide to How to Have a Leave No Trace Elopement to help you get a good understanding of what LNT is and why it’s important to practice it any time you visit a national park or other protected lands.

5. Monitor trail & road conditions ahead of time

Lastly, make sure that you monitor trail and road conditions in the weeks leading up to your elopement, just in case anything is closed for some unexpected reason that affects your plans. This is also why you should have always have backup plans in place!

couple walking together joshua tree national park landscape

Joshua Tree Elopement Photographer

Can ya tell I’m obsessed with Joshua Tree and everything that the epic desert has to offer?! I’d love to be your Joshua Tree elopement photographer and show you all of my favorite spots in the park, help you plan your dream day, and document it all.

Joshua Tree Elopement Packages + Pricing

Check out my Joshua Tree elopement packages + pricing to see if I offer what you’re lookin’ for, and then contact me here if you’re dying for me to be a part of your special day 😉

couple kissing joshua tree national park landscape

Want some more elopement resources to help you plan your California elopement?! Check out two of my recent favs below!!

Big Sur Elopement Guide

Best Places in California To Elope

Or if you’re looking for more general elopement tips + advice, you have to check out my guide to How to Plan Your Perfect Elopement.

  1. […] because I love JT sooo much, I even put together a whole separate Joshua Tree Elopement Guide for ya […]

  2. […] desert, and I love it SO MUCH as an elopement location for couples. Sooo I put together a whole Joshua Tree Elopement Guide for any couples who are considering eloping at this amazing place in SoCal! I included everything […]

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