So! You’re thinking of getting married at Joshua Tree National Park. 10 pts to Gryffindor, that is a STELLAR idea. Joshua Tree is an amaaaaazing place for an abundance of reasons; it provides the perfect marriage (har har) of adventure and funk, if being close to a cool city is your thing, Palm Springs is nearby, and it’s gooorgeous at sunset. I’ve talked about getting married in a National Park already; so this post is for those of you specifically considering a Joshua Tree Elopement.
Joshua Tree sits in Southern California on the intersection of two big deserts; the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert (which is actually part of the Sonoran) and the Little San Bernadino mountains sit snuggly on the horizon. It’s a place that breathes adventure and has an unmistakable sense of place; from the funky Joshua Trees to the cholla cacti and the famous piles of shimmering boulders, it’s a *rad* place. (Also if you’re a nerd like me and want to know how these boulders came to be, watch this video.)
I’m in no position to tell anyone how to live but I definitely have suggestions when it comes to the best time of year to elope in Joshua Tree. Weather can vary a lot of Joshua Tree, even within the park on the same day (due to big changes in elevation in the park). And Joshua Tree is in the middle of the desert. So, as you can imagine, summer months (think June, July, and August….and even some of September) are guaranteed to be… pretty hot. Like, very hot.
On the other hand the winters tends towards being mild enough but it can snow during the winter months (and it is gorgeous). If you’re wanting a warmer vibe though, I tend to recommend shoulder season for best weather AND low crowds. Think March, April, May and October/November.
You have so many options!!!! Joshua Tree doesn’t have any brick and mortar lodging in the park, but you will not want for accommodation options. Some of my favorite airbnb’s I’ve ever stayed at were outside of Joshua Tree- so you’re guaranteed to find the perfect lodging for your Joshua Tree elopement. Just book early! Some of the more popular spots book somewhat far out!
You can camp in the park- there are tons of campground options (some you can reserve ahead of time, some are first come first serve). And I will say that the camping I’ve done in Joshua Tree has been some of my favorite- Hidden Valley Campground is my personal fav. Not to mention that the boulders give both a real sense of privacy and a sense of fun. You’re basically camping in nature’s jungle gym. Note: you will not get to have professional photos in the campground- the park prohibits it!
If camping isn’t your thing, there are so many absolutely amazing airbnb’s in the town of Joshua Tree, just outside the park (Like this boho dream, this desert gem, this adorable camper, or this modern marvel).
If you’re wanting something a bit more luxurious, Palm Springs is a short 1 hour drive from both the West Entrance and the Cottonwood Visitors Center. Palm Springs is packed with fancy, amazing hotels but my favorites are The Ace, Korakia Pensione, and La Serena Villas.
In order to get married in Joshua Tree National Park you will need to obtain a permit. Applications for a permit are submitted by the couple and are $120.00 (and in addition to this, your photographer will need to obtain a special use permit in addition to the wedding permit). The permit app is fairly straightforward, but your photog should be able to walk you through the paperwork if you have any questions. I always send over a super detailed set of instructions for any permit applications (some of the questions can be confusing!) During the permitting process you will need to identify where you want to get married. Joshua Tree National Park restricts the locations where you can officially tie the knot –
Don’t let this get you down-I know whenever I see restrictions on locations it’s easy to get a bit bummed but all these spots are suuuuper rad and full of Joshua Trees and boulders. But trust me, you can’t go wrong with any of these spots. And you can totally have Joshua Tree elopement photos elsewhere in the park- you just have to have your ceremony at one of the pre-approved locations.
Also a few things to keep in mind; Joshua Tree does prohibit the use of dried flowers, smoke bombs, birdseed, or any live animals (this DOES include pets. If having your furbaby present is super important to you, somewhere outside the park is probably a better options because it will severely limit what you can and can’t do**). And like all National Parks drones are not allowed. But! If you have your heart set on some rad wide shots, the boulders do allow some extremely cool viewpoints. I just have to do a bit of scrambling 😉
** If you *do* want to bring your pet along for your elopement, there are other nearby locations that have a super similar look to Joshua tree- like Mojave National Preserve.
So, cost. It’s a thing, right? I’m based out of Phoenix, Arizona but I travel all over the southwest (so I basically consider places like Joshua Tree, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, etc to be my backyard.) Also! I don’t charge travel fees for any stateside elopement or adventure wedding so you don’t have to worry about additional travel costs to get me from here to there. So what’s included and what does it cost?
Four hours: $4000 | Eight Hours: $6000 | One 8-hr day + 4 hr day: $8500
Not sold yet? Need a little more visual aid? Look, I get it. There are soooo many amazing places to elope in. It’s hard to pick. Here’s what I’ll say about Joshua Tree; it’s a little funky, a little rad. If you like places a little outside the box or, like me, enjoy things that are just a bit *weird* then Joshua Tree might be a good fit for you. And if seeing a full story helps you get your head around things, here’s a full Joshua Tree elopement story to get your wheels turning even more (this shoot also featured here, so if you want to see more, check it out!)
Want a National Park element but not sold on Joshua Tree? Check out this Yosemite Elopement Planning blog post!