Eloping in a gorgeous national park such as Joshua Tree is something I will never stop recommending to my couples because of the incredible experiences that come with. From the gorgeous trees, to the big rock formations, to the desert landscapes, Joshua Tree has such an adventurous atmosphere all around that creates memories of a lifetime. Let's dive into the top tips and tricks I've learned along the way to make your experience that much sweeter.
Abigail Traver Photo | Wisconsin + Destination Wedding & Elopement Photographer
Hiring a Photographer
The first step in planning your elopement is to hire your photographer! Some elopement photographers (like me!) will help you to plan out your entire elopement experience so hiring your photographer first is often the best place to start. Inquire here to learn more about my elopement packages.
How to Elope With Permits
When eloping at Joshua Tree, it's imperative that you leave no trace to respect the wildlife. A wedding permit is required and is $120. I cover the photo permit, don't worry! You can learn all about the different rules and permits here. There is also an entrance fee into the park which is $30 per vehicle and is good for 7 days.
Maintaining The Park
To maintain the park, there is a list of items that are and are not allowed. The items that are allowed include an arch, must be free-standing, cooler with water, live flowers, battery-powered candles, runner rug, cake, and champagne. Who doesn't love a good champagne pop at the end of a great celebration? Items that are not allowed in the park include drones, dried flowers, non-battery powered candles, bubbles, any live animals, including doves, butterflies, etc, confetti, rice, birdseed, balloons, and smoke bombs.
The Perfect Time To Elope
Finding the perfect time to elope is one of the most important steps of the whole process. Joshua tree is scorching hot during the summer. The best time to elope there is during the cooler months of the year and on a weekday to avoid crowds. The best months to elope are March- May and October-November. Sunrise or sunset are the best times of the day to schedule your ceremony for the perfect lighting. Without the large crowds and hot weather, your elopement will be much more intimate and memorable.
How To Elope With Marriage Licenses
In order to get married in Joshua Tree, you will need a California marriage license. You can get one from any county in the state if you live in California, otherwise if you're coming from out of state, the closest county clerk’s offices are in San Bernardino County. You can find out more on that here. Another option if you don't want to deal with all the legalities of getting married in another state, is just to get legally married in your home state! Your elopement will still be just as special.
Finding The Right Officiant
If you want to get legally married in Joshua Tree, you will either need an officiant, or you can self-solemnize! California is one of the few states that you can do this. If you'd like to use an officiant, I recommend having a close friend or family member get ordained. That way you won't have to worry about hiring an officiant and your ceremony can be even more meaningful by having someone close to you officiating it. This article has great information on officiants and how to get ordained.
Where To Elope in Joshua Tree
Finding the perfect area to celebrate your special day is another important factor in planning your elopement. The good news is, pretty much anywhere you go in the park is going to be beautiful! Here are the locations you're allowed to elope at:
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.
Where to Stay
There are many great places to stay close to the park! Here are a few of my favorite airbnbs on the list to make your experience all-around fun: Desert Air Casita, Soul Refuge Villa - Desert Getaway in Joshua Tree, Unique View Retreat by JoshuaTree Park Pool|Hottub, Dome in the Desert in Joshua Tree, 'Desert Wild' Joshua Tree, Pool and Hot Tub, Moon Camp: A Unique Dome House Getaway, The Shack, Attack in Joshua Tree, and Joshua Tree Little Jo Cabin.
Splurge Worthy Stays
Spending the extra money on a luxurious stay is more than worth it. Imagine coming home from adventure of a lifetime and then staying in a beautiful mansion to end off the night. Sounds too good to be true, right? Here are some of my favorite airbnb's that are worth every penny: Invisible House Joshua Tree | Modern Masterpiece, Architect's Off-Grid Stargazing Cabin, and Le Chacuel.
Directions & Planning Tips
The closest airport is Palm Springs, which is about an hour away from the park. Los Angeles and San Diego are other options, but are a bit further away (2.5 - 4 hours depending on traffic). Having a car is definitely a must, so I'd suggest getting a rental from Turo or a more conventional car rental service. If you'd like to add a fun aspect to your elopement, splurge a bit and rent a cool car!
Kind Words From a Sweet Couple
"We absolutely loved having Abigail as our photographer for our big day, the photos are absolutely gorgeous, she was super supportive, she helped me plan out the timeline and helped me through the pre elopement jitters, she captured every single special moment perfectly with ease. we couldn't have been happier with our choice in photographer. Thank you so much Abigail for everything you did and helped us with." - Tori & Noah
Ready to start planning your Joshua Tree elopement next?
Let's get in touch! I aim to make your elopement experience as easy and breezy as possible. Which is why it's important to invest into a photographer who has tons of experience on how to elope in the location you're wanting to celebrate your special day. Whether you're going the traditional route with a Wisconsin wedding back home, or you celebrate with a nontraditional elopement full of adventure, I'm ready to hop on a plane and meet you there! Let's make some unforgettable memories together. Learn more about me here, and if you think I' be the perfect photographer for you, then inquire with me here!