The high desert of southern California is a sight to be seen. People come from all over the world to experience the beauty of Joshua Tree National Park and the peacefulness of the desert. You can spend days exploring the rock formations, stargazing around a campfire, and taking in the otherworldly landscape. The colors are breathtaking, the the sunsets are unreal, and the connection to the earth you will feel upon visiting is so grounding.
It’s rightly so that Joshua Tree is highly sought after as a wedding location. But what if you want to say your vows in the magic of the desert, but maybe have too many guests for a ceremony within the national park? Or looking for a location that includes comfortable lodging for your friends and family to join? Sometimes what you need is a more “traditional” venue for your Joshua Tree wedding or reception. But thankfully with Joshua Tree, traditional is a loose term, so even an official wedding venue will still offer unique features, a peaceful escape in the desert, and a wedding day like none other. Joshua Tree and the surrounding towns of Twentynine Palms, Yucca Valley, and Pioneertown, hold some stunning venue options for the desert wedding of your dreams.
*Please note: none of the following images are mine, they are all from Google Images.
Located just one mile from the west entrance of Joshua Tree National Park, Sacred Sands is the ideal desert oasis for your wedding, plus it can double as your lodging. Soak in the outdoor tubs, choose between outdoor or indoor beds, relax under the stars, and let the glorious mountain view be the perfect backdrop for your ceremony.
A glamping dream! Autocamp has become famous for offering idyllic getaways in the most unique of accommodations. They recently opened an airstream camp right in the middle of the town of Joshua Tree. With a pool and small grocery store, you have all you need, but you’re also within walking distance to coffee shops, restaurants, and convenience stores. They offer a variety of indoor and outdoor event spaces, an outdoor bar, and a space for your favorite food truck. If you want the feel of camping but with luxuries close at hand for your wedding day, Autocamp is the venue for you.
Brilliantly designed and artfully styled, Le Chacuel is a modern dream. Featuring a restful, intentional space and an emphasis on sustainability, Le Chacuel was designed to be a peaceful escape into the desert and a homage to the landscape it sits on. Relax under the desert sky, float in the pool or soak in the hot tub, and you can even bring your pets! Perfect for an elopement or honeymoon destination.
With several beautiful lodging options for you and your guests, Rimrock Ranch is 36 acres of desert ambience. Stay in one of their restored 1940s-era cabins, a comfortable Airstream, or the luxurious Hatch House and enjoy incredible views. This sprawling property will instantly make you feel secluded and at home. For your wedding, they have lodging for your guests, plenty of space to set up an outdoor dinner, and an idyllic ceremony site nestled between two towering Joshua Trees.
Located in Twentynine Palms, the Rasta Rita Cantina + Venue is a renovated adobe style 1924 building with the most stunning southwestern style. It also offers onsite taco catering and bar service, so what more could you need for your desert celebration? With indoor and outdoor space for up to 150 guests, you can bring all your favorite people and dance the night away under the stars.
Located in the historic western setting of Pioneertown, the Pioneertown Motel would be ideal for some western desert vibes. It’s within walking distance from some of the best food and drinks in the area – Pappy & Harriet’s, and the Motel’s latest venture, Red Dog Saloon. The Motel boasts three different spaces to host your wedding – the Amphitheater, the Barn, and the Canteen – and with 19 guest rooms, all your guests can stay on site with you!
Not long after our romantic elopement to Italy, we bought a sprawling 1953 homestead on five acres sight-unseen as an escape from the city and the pandemic. We named it Motojave as a nod to its history as a high desert auto body shop, and loved our hands-on journey of restoring the homestead back to its original mid-century style.
The peaceful grounds are like a personal forest of gorgeous Joshua trees, creosotes, yuccas, whispering tamarisks and wildflowers, with a panoramic backdrop of Joshua Tree National Park. We invite people from all over to world and all walks of life to celebrate your own love stories here, with an engagement, elopement or intimate ceremony that allows you to fully focus and connect with each other in stunning scenic beauty. No permits, no hassles, no crowds.
To enjoy Motojave to the fullest, we say stay awhile… hire a chef to create an epic meal, spin records and dance, cozy up by the indoor fireplace, gaze at twinkling lights across the valley, raise a glass at the vintage bar, float in the pool, get a sunset massage, relax by the fire pit with s’mores, listen to the coyotes’ song, soak up the stars from the Tuft & Needle zero-gravity stargazing bed or bubbling hot tub, wake to mountain sunrises in the comfy king bed… these are the moments memories are made of.
-contribution from Erin O’Connor Smith & Christopher Smith, owners of Motojave
Pro tip: When choosing an Airbnb location, it is important to check with the host before booking to see what size/manner of events may be allowed at their property. It is very common now for Airbnbs to only allow elopements.
The desert can often make people think of hostility or barrenness, but Joshua Tree is a place that inspires rest, creativity, and beauty. It’s a place that offers us its emptiness and peace, so that we can be filled by all that the desert holds, and find connection to the earth and to one another. No matter the venue, you’ve already made the perfect decision of having your wedding amongst the splendor of the Joshua Tree desert. Come experience all that Joshua Tree has to offer.
Based in OKC, I photograph weddings all over the world but specifically in Joshua Tree. When I’m not working, you can usually find me planning my next national park trip, bouldering, hunting down the best chai lattes, hanging out with my husband Michael and our pup Mumford, and looking at Airbnbs just for fun. I specialize in working with intentional, adventurous couples who are focused on making their wedding day exactly what they want it to be, regardless of tradition.
As a lover of nature and cold weather, mountains have always held my heart, but when I visited Joshua Tree the first time, the peace and wild beauty of the desert completely captivated me and I’ve been drawn back to this place over and over again. I would love to help you craft your one-of-a-kind Joshua Tree wedding experience and document your love story in a way that is personal and meaningful to you! Just as your wedding or elopement should be a reflection of who you are, I believe your photos should be, too.
My Joshua Tree wedding and elopement photography packages start at $5000. Other than the photos of your dreams, my package also include access to my exclusive 15+ page Joshua Tree Elopement Guide, location scouting, a custom day-of timeline, vendor recommendations, help with acquiring any necessary permits, and a kickass experience. Let’s work together and make some magic!!