Are you looking for a unique and romantic way to tie the knot? A desert elopement is the perfect way to start your life together. With its vast, open landscapes, California offers some of the most beautiful desert elopement locations in the world. From Joshua Tree National Park to Glamis Sand Dunes. From the Mojave Desert to Death Valley. Each location is just as stunning as the other! But if you’re looking for something a little different, there are some great alternative desert elopement locations outside of California!
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most popular desert elopement locations in California. Located in southeastern California, this park is known for its iconic Joshua trees and stunning rock formations. It’s also home to a variety of wildlife, including coyotes, bighorn sheep, and roadrunners. With its wide-open spaces and breathtaking views, it’s no wonder why so many couples choose to elope here and why you should to!
Joshua Tree Elopement Locations
When planning your elopement at Joshua Tree National Park, there are several things to consider. First, you’ll need to decide which area of the park you want to get married in. There are several different areas that offer different types of scenery and experiences. For example, if you’re looking for a more traditional ceremony with a view of the mountains, then Hidden Valley
or Keys View might be a good choice! If you’re looking for something more rustic and secluded, then Barker Dam or Ryan Mountain might be better options.
Elopement Ceremony Details
Once you’ve chosen an area of the park for your desert elopement ceremony, you’ll need to decide how you want to get married! You can either have a traditional ceremony with an officiant or opt for a self-uniting ceremony without an officiant present. Both options are allowed in Joshua Tree National Park as long as they follow the park regulations. What’s so great about booking me as your elopement photographer is that, I am also an ordained officiant! So you get two for one!
Joshua Tree Marriage License and Permits
Finally, make sure to plan ahead when it comes to permits and other paperwork needed for your elopement. You will need to obtain a special use permit from the park before getting married in any area of Joshua Tree. This permit must be obtained at least two weeks prior to your wedding date. It will cost $120 per couple plus an additional fee depending on the size of your wedding party.
Michelle and Michael’s Joshua Tree elopement under the Milkyway galaxy.
Natasha and Ricky’s elopement at Arch Rock in Joshua Tree National Park
Andrea and Kevin’s laid-back Joshua Tree elopement with immediate family
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley is another great option for couples looking for a unique desert elopement location in California. It’s located east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in eastern California. It’s known for its extreme temperatures and rugged terrain. It’s also home to some incredible geological features. Such as sand dunes, salt flats, and canyons that make it an ideal spot for an unforgettable desert elopement experience!
When planning your desert elopement here there are several things to consider. First, you’ll need to decide which area of the park you want to get married in. There are several different areas that offer different types of scenery and experiences. Such as Badwater Basin (the lowest point in North America), Zabriskie Point (a colorful landscape full of eroded hills), or Dante’s View (a spectacular viewpoint overlooking Death Valley).
Elopement Ceremony Details
Once you’ve chosen an area of the park for your ceremony, you’ll need to decide how you want to get married. You can either have a traditional ceremony with an officiant or opt for a self-uniting ceremony without an officiant present. Both options are allowed in Death Valley if they comply with park regulations.
Death Valley Marriage License and Permits
Finally, marriage licenses and permits. Just as you have to in Joshua Tree you will need to obtain a special use permit before getting married in any area of Death Valley. This permit must be obtained at least two weeks prior to your wedding date. It will also cost $120 per couple plus an additional fee depending on the size of your wedding party.
Looking to have your desert elopement in Death Valley and want more information? See more on my blog, How to have a Death Valley Elopement!
Glamis Sand Dunes
The Glamis Sand Dunes is another great desert elopement location! Glamis Sand Dunes is located in Imperial County, near the Mexican border. This area is known for its vast sand dunes and stunning sunsets. It’s a great spot for couples who want to get away from it all and have an intimate ceremony surrounded by nature! There are also plenty of camping spots nearby, so you can stay overnight and enjoy the beauty of the desert!
Couples can choose from a variety of locations within the dunes, including the iconic Oldsmobile Hill, which offers sweeping views of the surrounding area. Other popular spots include Gecko Road and Glamis Beach. Each location offers unique features such as sandstone formations, towering dunes, and breathtaking sunsets. As the area is remote it may require some planning ahead of time to ensure a successful ceremony! Additionally, couples should be prepared for extreme temperatures during the summer months.
Glamis Sand Dunes Marriage License and Permits
To get married here, you’ll need to obtain a permit from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). You can also apply for a special use permit if you plan on having more than 25 people attend your ceremony! As far as marriage licenses go, you’ll need to visit the Imperial County Clerk’s Office in El Centro.
Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Anza Borrego Desert State Park is located in San Diego County and is one of the largest state parks in California. It’s home to a variety of wildlife, including bighorn sheep, coyotes, and roadrunners. Couples can explore the park on foot or by car, taking in the breathtaking views of mountains, canyons, and wildflowers. There are also plenty of camping spots available if you want to stay overnight.
As far as marriage licenses go, you’ll need to visit the San Diego County Clerk’s Office in San Diego.
The park offers several locations that are perfect for elopement ceremonies, including:
- Font’s Point: This overlook offers breathtaking views of the desert and is a popular spot for elopements. It’s located near the center of the park and is accessible by car.
- Yaqui Meadows: This meadow is surrounded by mountains and has plenty of open space to accommodate larger groups. It’s located in the northern part of the park and can be accessed by car or on foot.
- Coyote Canyon: This canyon is filled with lush vegetation and provides a secluded setting for your ceremony. It’s located in the southern part of the park and can only be accessed on foot.
No matter which location you choose, Anza Borrego Desert will provide you with a beautiful and memorable setting for your elopement ceremony!
The Mojave Desert is located in Southern California and spans over 25 million acres. It’s known for its unique landscape, which includes Joshua trees, sand dunes, and volcanic rock formations. Couples can explore this area on foot or by car, taking in the stunning views of the desert landscape. Not only that but, couples can choose from a variety of ceremony sites, including Keys View, Barker Dam, and Skull Rock! There are also plenty of camping spots available if you want to stay overnight.
Mojave Desert Marriage License and Permits
Getting married in the Mojave desert is similar to getting married at any other elopement location. You’ll need to obtain a special use permit from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and for marriage licenses, you’ll need to visit the county clerk’s office in whichever county your ceremony will take place in!
Oceano Dunes Near Pismo Beach
Oceano Dunes near Pismo Beach is a great spot for couples who want to elope on the beach! This area is known for its stunning sunsets and miles of sandy beaches. You can explore this area on foot or by car, taking in the breathtaking views of the ocean and sand dunes! There are also plenty of camping spots available if you want to stay overnight!
As far as marriage licenses go, you’ll need to visit the San Luis Obispo County Clerk’s Office in San Luis Obispo.
The most popular spot for elopement ceremonies at Oceano Dunes is the Grandview Point Overlook! This overlook offers panoramic views of the ocean and the surrounding dunes. It’s also a great spot to watch the sunset or sunrise.
Another popular spot for elopement ceremonies is the Oceano Beach Pier! This pier offers stunning views of the ocean and provides a unique backdrop for your ceremony. You can also take advantage of the nearby restaurants and shops to make your day even more special.
If you’re looking for something a bit more private, there are plenty of secluded spots along the beach that are perfect for an intimate ceremony! These spots offer beautiful views of the ocean and provide a peaceful atmosphere for your special day!
Alternative Desert Elopement Locations Outside California
If you’re looking for something a little different than what California has to offer, there are plenty of alternative desert elopement locations outside of California that are just as beautiful! Here are just a few ideas:
- Arizona: Grand Canyon National Park or Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
- Utah: Arches National Park or Canyonlands National Park
- Nevada: Red Rock Canyon or Valley Of Fire State Park
- New Mexico: White Sands National Monument or Carlsbad Caverns National Park
- Texas: Big Bend Ranch State Park or Guadalupe Mountains National Park
- Colorado: Great Sand Dunes National Park or Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park
No matter which destination you choose for your desert elopement adventure, make sure it reflects who you both are as individuals and as a couple! With so many amazing places out there waiting to be explored, it won’t be hard finding one that fits perfectly with your personalities and style!
I hope this blog on the best desert elopement locations in California and beyond has helped you plan your special day! Check out Jennifer Whalen Weddings packages and pricing on her website to book her as your adventure elopement photographer and see more of her work here!