Table of Contents
Why elope in Death Valley
Although it’s the largest national park in the lower 48, Death Valley remains a hidden gem. With its dramatic scenery and wide range of topography, it’s the perfect setting for an otherworldly desert elopement. Whether you’re dreaming of sand dunes, snow capped mountains, salt flats, or colorful rock formations for the backdrop for your wedding day—it’s here and ready to be explored.
Where to Elope in Death Valley
Amongst the pale landscape is a hidden stretch of painted hills, aptly named Artist Pallet. Mineral deposits have turned this stretch of landscape into a parade of pinks, turquoise, blues, and oranges.
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
It’s taken centuries for these sand dunes to form from the eroding mountains surrounding them. The rolling dunes of The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes are littered with twisted Mesquite trees.
The shifting sands of the Eureka Dunes seemingly sing as the desert breeze comes and goes. Standing amongst the expansive dunes framed by mountain peaks you feel like you’re in another world.
Understandably so, Zabriskie Point is one of the most photographed areas of the park. Climb to one of the peaks for a breathtaking view where you can marvel at the badlands, the salt dunes in the distance, and the mountains surrounding the area.
There is nothing like wandering white salt flats, the ground crunching beneath your feet, the salt mimicking colors of the sky above. Badwater Basin is the lowest point in North America below sea level and visiting it is an experience of a lifetime.
The layers of rock exposed by the crater creates a rainbow ribbon around the inside. It’s simply incredible. The Ubehebe Crater is an important cultural area of the Timbisha Shoshone people so if you visit please do so with respect.
Seemingly out of movie mirage is Darwin Falls, an oasis hidden in the desert canyon. A flowing waterfall pours into a pool below surrounded by lush vegetation. This unassuming area of water supports all kinds of wildlife in the valley.
Ancient waters polished the walls of this canyon giving the layered rocks stuck in the sediment a mosaic like quality, hence the name, Mosaic Canyon. Smooth marble walls shape around you as you make your way through the canyon trail.
Looking for another amazing desert elopement location closer to LA? Check out Joshua Tree!
Where to stay for your death valley elopement
There are various motels on the outskirts of Death Valley National Park, simple stays to hang your hat and get ready. If you’re looking for something a little more luxurious check out The Inn at Death Valley, a luxury resort where you can rent a room or an entire casita for your elopement! Less than a 13 minute drive to a park entrance it’s the ideal location if you want to add in some pampering to your adventure.
There are a handful of Airbnb’s within an hour drive of Death Valley, like this home tucked amongst the rocks and this stylish desert home. Luckily, this national park is only two hours from Las Vegas where there are plenty of rentals to choose from!
Sleeping under the stars? Say less! There are 9 official campsites in Death Valley. You can tent camp for free at Emigrant, Wildrose, Thorndike, or Mahogany Flat (all of the campsites are first come, first serve and are only open for a portion of the year). There are also millions of acres of backcountry wilderness open for more experienced campers, you just need to obtain a permit first!
Furnace creek is the only park operated campground with RV hookups, but there are multiple private campgrounds that operate within the park. There are over 700 miles of backcountry roads to car camp for free if you’re traveling in a van! You have to be a mile away from any paved road and off roading is strictly prohibited throughout the park to protect the fragile desert landscape.
When to Elope in Death Valley
During the summer months temperatures in the valley soar above 100 degrees and rarely get lower than 80 degrees. It gets so hot that the park shuts down campsites during these months and advises people to enjoy the scenery from their cars. But that’s okay, because the spring and winter months are ideal and here’s why:
From late February though early April, the temperature during the day hovers around the low 70’s and high 80’s and falls into the 50’s at night. This makes it an ideal time to enjoy sunrise, sunset, and do some stargazing! And best of all, wildflowers. The desert valley comes alive during the spring months with brilliant and expansive blooms!
No heat, no crowds, no problems. We love the winter months for desert elopements! The temperatures stay mild, around the mid 70’s during the day and 40’s during the night. This means you’ll be comfortable during your elopement and can cuddle up at the end of the night to do some unbelievable stargazing under some of the darkest skies in the United States.
Death Valley Elopement Tips
Permits and Fees
Like every National Park you’ll need to obtain a special use permit to elope in Death Valley. Luckily the process is pretty straight forward! All you need to do is submit your application at least 60 days in advance, as the processing fee is 30-60 days, and pay the $300 processing fee.
California Marriage Laws
You’ll need to pop into a county clerk’s office to pick up and register your marriage license. California recognizes self-uniting marriage, it just requires two witnesses to sign the marriage license. We’re always happy to sign and more often than not we run into an eager hiker that’s willing to sign too! If you’re looking for a special someone to perform a ceremony they’ll need to be ordained. Then you’ll just need one other person to sign your marriage license!
There is no cell service so make sure you have a full tank of gas, plenty of water, some snacks, and that other people know where you’re headed/when they’ll be hearing back from you!
Respecting the Land
We operate from a deep rerooted respect for the outdoors. It’s important to acknowledge and respect the history of the places we visit as well as do our part in conserving the areas we explore through Leave No Trace Principles. Like many parks throughout the United States, Death Valley was founded on unneeded indigenous land. We encourage you to learn more about this land and the Timbisha Shoshone people before visiting.
Death Valley Elopement Photographers
If we’ve convinced you to look past the name “Death Valley,” and explore the beauty this park has to offer, we’d love to document your elopement. If you’re looking for a dramatic backdrop to your wedding day, Death Valley National Park is waiting for you!