Eloping in Joshua Tree National Park

If you are considering Joshua Tree National Park for you elopement, but do not know where to start. No worries! In this blog we are sharing our tips and tricks. From where to stay, to how to apply for your national park wedding permit, to what to pack, and images from previous sessions, we have you covered. As a Los Angeles based wedding and elopement photographer, Joshua Tree National Park is one of my favorite elopement and intimate wedding destinations.

When to elope in Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree is quite hot in the summertime, even in the mornings and evenings which would typically provide some relief. The best time of year to avoid the heat and the biggest crowds are spring and fall weekdays. The photos used in this blog were taken in early February! We visited mid week and we experienced minimal wind, amazing lighting, and small crowd sizes. As always, when planning an outdoor elopement, be mindful that the weather is unpredictable. Be prepared to have some flexibility, and embrace your day as it comes. This will all add to the story of your day!

How do I get a permit to elope in Joshua Tree?

Once you have your date in mind, you will need to request a permit. This is standard for most national parks, and the process is not complicated. However, it does take some time, so be sure to include this in your timeline to ensure you get the date you want. 

Joshua Tree requires a $120 Special Use Permit for weddings and elopements. Due to recent updates in the permit process, photographers are covered under your wedding permit and no longer require a separate one. However, this is subject to change, so be sure to check as sometimes things can vary from the time this blog was written. 

In most cases, my clients have been able to obtain their permit within a month, and had a seamless process. Not obtaining this permit opens you up to fines and can have quite the impact on your elopement.

You can apply for your permit here!

Where can I elope in Joshua Tree National Park?

The permitting page keeps an updated list of locations and guest counts for each location. 

At the time of this blog, the current list is:

Indian Cove Amphitheater; No more than 100 people total and only 1 vehicle. You must shuttle your guest in and out of this location.

Hidden Valley Picnic Area; No more than 35 people total and up to 8 vehicles.

Turkey Flats; No more than 35 people total and up to 8 vehicles.

Cap Rock; No more than 25 people total and up to 8 vehicles.

Rattlesnake Picnic Area; No more than 20 people and 8 vehicles.

Quail Springs Picnic Area; No more than 15 people and 8 vehicles.

Split Rock; No more than 15 people and 5 vehicles.

Porcupine Wash; No more than 12 people and 4 vehicles.

Queen Valley Mine Intersection; No more than 10 people and 5 vehicles.

Lost Horse Parking Lot; No more than 10 people and 5 vehicles.

Live Oak Picnic Area; No more than 5 people and 3 vehicles.

What should I pack or bring with me?

It is so important to note that there is no gas or cell service once you enter the park. I'm talking as soon as you enter, nothing...at all. Before you enter the park however, there are many places you can stop and grab a snack, fuel up, and stock up on water. I love eating at the Joshua Tree Saloon and hitting the visitor center for any keepsakes before heading in!

So please keep in mind that you will need:

  • A car with a full tank of gas
  • water and snacks
  • Sunscreen, hats, protective layers
  • appropriate footwear for moving from location to location
  • a map or your digital maps downloaded ahead of time 

Here is a list of items that are approved by the park and permitted for your wedding or elopement taken directly from the official website.

  • Arch, must be free-standing
  • Small table for guest book
  • Cooler with water
  • Live flowers
  • Battery-powered candles
  • Runner
  • Rug
  • Cake
  • Champagne

These items are not permitted:

  • Drones
  • Dried flowers
  • Non-battery powered candles
  • Bubbles
  • Any live animals, including doves, butterflies, etc
  • Confetti
  • Rice
  • Birdseed
  • Balloons
  • Smoke Bombs

Keep in mind that just as you want to enjoy this beautiful park, we need to work together to preserve it for others who want to in the future! There are steps we can take to do our part to leave no trace.

Read more about Leave No Trace to learn of more ways you can do your part to leave this park just as you found it for others. 

How can I book an elopement in Joshua Tree National Park?

Ready to book a photography package for your Joshua Tree elopement or wedding? Head to my contact page here to tell me more about your vision!