Joshua Tree Weddings
Otherworldly. Mystical stacks of boulders, giant yucca, the smell of creosote. Between blooming springtime flowers, chilly nights, and the desert landscape that blows the sky wide open, Joshua Tree is with a good reason a favorite place for wedding photographs. You can drive only a few miles in from the National Park entrance and after a few winding miles drive up a hill and find yourselves in another world, so wild is the expanse before you.
The area holds a mystical draw, for artists and outcasts and lovers alike, the absolute wonder of the place impossible to describe. For couples who want something slightly less traditional, outside the norm, drawn to the expansive Mojave desert and its many wonders, Joshua Tree is an ideal elopement wedding location. Destination wedding photographers flock to Joshua Tree for good reason; Joshua Tree photography makes for a dream California wedding.
Getting Married In Joshua Tree?
If eloping or having a small ceremony (say family and friends), Joshua Tree National Park’s wild landscape offers a stunning wedding backdrop. It’s also incredibly affordable; a park wedding costs $120 for a designated site permit. And the planning process doesn’t have to be complicated, either, nor is getting your marriage license.
Wedding permit applications are online here; designated sites include boulder-filled, Joshua tree laden sites like Cap Rock, Indian Cove, Split Rock, and others, including Quail Springs. Of course, every site has its own limits on how many people and vehicles are allowed, so do your research for filling out your permit application. Wedding photographers in Joshua Tree—and any commercial Joshua Tree photography, for that matter—are subject to their own restrictions and permits, as well, so make sure you or your photographer have your paperwork in order.
What Time Of Year Should You Visit Joshua Tree?
As you might guess, Joshua Tree and the surrounding Mojave are quite warm through the summer. The spring and fall, however, can be especially gorgeous. March through May you can usually count on an incredible spring bloom, which is made even more vibrant by wet winters. Joshua trees begin fruiting, cholla cacti flower, and then there’s all the desert wildflowers, splashes of bright color. It’s definitely worth seeing! That also means it’s the busiest time in the park, but with good reason.
Fall is beautiful, too, as temperatures drop and so does the number of tourists. Summer is toasty, but because the air is so dry, temperatures tend to cool off significantly once the sun goes down.
Winter is nice, too. The park is quieter, making it the best time for avoiding crowds and snagging a coveted campsite. If you’re lucky, you might even manage to time it so you’re there for one of the rare high desert snows! Plus most days are dry and sunny, even if nights are often chilly.
As far as the day of the week goes, weddings and elopements are best done on a weekday to avoid the weekend crowds from Los Angeles or San Diego. Monday through Thursday are your best bets!
Places To Get Married In Joshua Tree
10 Best Joshua Tree Elopement Spots
- Anywhere you feel is “the spot” for you. The best place to have your wedding in Joshua Tree National Park is a place that is special for the two of you, whether that’s because of a shared history there or simply because it speaks to you.
- Indian Cove Amphitheater. While there are some restrictions (like shuttling guests), it’s one of the most beautiful locations in the Park and has the added advantage of allowing more guests (all other sites have a strict 25-person cap).
- Hidden Valley Picnic Area. While not available between March and May, the rock formations (which offer some of the best climbing in Southern California) are a real star.
- Keys View. Especially at sunrise, when you can see the Salton Sea, Coachella Valley, and desert landscape slowly wake up in pinks and purples, Keys View offers some of the best views of the Mojave Desert.
- Cap Rock. The Cap Rock area offers a great example of microclimates—and a spectacular range of desert shrubs are available as a result—but the real standout is Cap Rock itself; there’s a reason this is one of the most popular Joshua Tree elopement spots, both for elopement photography and for desert wedding ceremonies.
- Live Oak Picnic Area. One of the most intimate weddings settings in the park (max capacity five people and three vehicles) it manages to feel both cozy and convey the vastness of the Mojave Desert for memorable wedding days.
- Turkey Flats. With a backdrop of rolling hills, the flatness of Turkey Flats is great for couples looking to make their desert elopement their own, and with a max capacity of 35, it offers room for a few more guests, too.
- Rattlesnake Picnic Area. Whether you want a backdrop of rocks or desert shrubbery, this moderately intimate venue (max capacity of 20 people) gives you options.
- Porcupine Wash. While Porcupine Wash has permit limits of 12 people and four vehicles, that also means you won’t have to deal with a crowd, and the sandy wash is a great place to really embrace the spirit of a desert wedding.
- Split Rock. Between the rocky terrain, washes, boulder fields, oaks and pines, and of course, the Joshua trees, there’s a lot of variety here for your desert elopement—just know that it’s a two-mile hike to the Split Rock itself.
Joshua Tree Wedding Venues (6 Must See Locations)
What if you want a slightly more traditional wedding venue in Joshua Tree for your wedding? There are still lots of great options in the surrounding area, including these six must-see locations:
- Sacred Sands. A romantic desert oasis perfect for any brides and grooms, located between Yucca Valley and the Park’s west entrance, and best known for its outdoor tubs and showers, Sacred Sands is perfect for a honeymoon after your Joshua Tree National Park elopement; they do also offer wedding venue space should you wish to tie the knot outside the Park.
- Tumbleweed Sanctuary. Formerly a church, Tumbleweed Sanctuary now hosts ceremonies in a private setting, tucked away on 10 acres of desert in a residential part of Yucca Valley while still being near local conveniences.
- Rimrock Ranch. Originally built as a weekend retreat for Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and other actors, the 36-acre ranch includes retrofitted Airstream trailers and beautiful spaces for receptions, ceremonies, or simply to stay (before, after, or both).
- Desert Lily Lodge. A magical, bohemian style venue perfect for the desert bride.
- Mojave Sands. Modern and minimalist, the luscious desert landscaping and 1950s-inspired motel is a great luxury getaway with five individual boutique rooms.
- Joshua Tree Ranch House. Located in downtown Joshua Tree the 1940s decor and desert pioneer vibe are great for getting into the Joshua Tree California headspace.
Regardless of where you choose to get married in Joshua Tree National Park or nearby in the Mojave Desert, regardless of where you choose to have a reception or romantic honeymoon, Joshua Tree and the surrounding area are full of fantastic and romantic settings for your special day. There’s a reason there are so many Joshua Tree photographers—elopement photographers and desert wedding photographers can’t get enough of the rock formations, Mojave sands, and California desert. Having your wedding in Joshua Tree or a Joshua Tree National Park elopement makes for a special day neither you nor your loved ones will ever forget.