☀️ Death Valley Elopement + Wedding Guide

Updated 4/29/24

What You’ll Find in This Death Valley Elopement Wedding Guide

Why Have Your Elopement Wedding in Death Valley?

Despite the name, Death Valley National Park is a gorgeous place, and perfect for your wedding or elopement! Why? It’s a highly underrated national park – visitor numbers are a fraction of other parks, but there’s still plenty of beauty and adventure for your wedding day. The park covers a huge amount of land and offers locations that are easy to get to as well as backcountry areas that are more remote. The scenery within Death Valley is mostly desert and mountains, but there’s also a lot of diversity within that. And speaking of scenery, if you love big landscapes and want to feel small compared to nature, this park is for you!

Frequently Asked Questions about Death Valley Elopements

Can you get married in Death Valley?
Yes! You’ll need a wedding permit to have your ceremony in the park, but you can take photos without one. You can also have your ceremony at a nearby venue and then explore the park for your elopement.

How do you elope in Death Valley?
First, find a location for your ceremony, then apply for a permit (read more on that below). Then plan some fun activities and be prepared so that you can have the best elopement experience at Death Valley!

When to Have Your Elopement in Death Valley

If you’re looking for warmer places to elope in spring, fall, and winter, Death Valley offers milder temperatures. While it still can get a bit chilly, especially at higher elevations, Death Valley is definitely one of the warmer US national parks to elope in those times of year. However, if you want to elope in the summer, this is not the place. With average summer temperatures well over 100°F (upper 30s to mid 40s °C), it’s not the kind of place you want to spend all day getting married. Fun fact: Death Valley National Park holds the world’s record for hottest verified air temperature at 134°F (57°C)!

So what’s the bottom line on when to plan your elopement in Death Valley National Park? If you prefer less visitors and don’t mind cooler weather, opt for January or December. February and March are great for spring weather, but be aware the wind storms can sometimes crop up. November gives you weather in the 50s and 70s, but visitor numbers are higher (much like in March). If you really want to lean into the warmth of the desert, visit in April or the even warmer October for 70s to 90s.

As for what time of day to elope in Death Valley National Park, I have two main tips. The first really goes for any elopement – don’t skimp and just do a quick ceremony and take a few photos afterwards, make your elopement an all day celebration! Death Valley has SO much to do and see in the park, and you and your partner will have so much fun exploring. Trust me (an elopement photographer with a lot of experience), you don’t want to miss out on a truly memorable elopement day!

My next tip is to catch sunrise, sunset, or both. There is something so magical about watching the sun descend behind the mountains or peek over the crests with its golden light. The scenery totally transforms in this light! Plus, you’re much less likely to encounter other park visitors at sunrise, and people often clear out of areas before sunset as well.

Death Valley Elopement Wedding Locations

Death Valley is a pretty large park, so how do you decide where you should go for your elopement? The good news is that no locations are off limits for your elopement! You can request any spot, although there’s never a guarantee that it will be approved (it depends on the number of guests, timing, environmental factors, etc.). I recommend having a few places in mind, just in case your first pick isn’t approved.

Although Death Valley is very much a desert park, there is actually quite a bit of variety in the scenery. From sand dunes to mountain peaks, salt flats to slot canyons, layered rocks to hidden springs, the park has so much to choose from. There’s also a lot to choose from in terms of accessibility – you can find an amazing place for your elopement whether you’re up for some backpacking or wanting to keep close to the parking lot. Trails of various lengths and difficulties are all over the park, just waiting to be explored! Read below for some of my suggestions on elopement locations at Death Valley.

Breakfast Canyon Elopement Location

This spot is unique because it’s closed to the public, but available for elopement and wedding ceremonies. If you want assurance of total privacy, this is the place! If you are wanting to have your ceremony during peak visitor hours, I’d definitely suggest Breakfast Canyon. This location can accommodate up to about 35 or 40 guests at your ceremony. There’s a locked gate at the entrance road to the canyon, which will need to be unlocked by a park ranger (more on that in the permits and rules section). As with any canyon, you’ll want to be mindful of the time of day for your elopement ceremony and where the sun will be falling. The canyon walls can make it a bit tricky to have even lighting, but with some smart planning you can make it happen!

Artist’s Palette Elopement Location

The magic of this location is the beautiful and unusual variety of colors in the rocks. To get to Artist’s Palette, you’ll drive about 15 minutes down a scenic one way road that’s lined with gold and tan rocks. When you arrive at the Artist’s Palette parking area, you’ll be amazed by the symphony of colors in the rocks before you! There are some short trails that allow you to get up close to the colors and explore the canyons below. I highly recommend coming around sunrise or sunset so that the colors are most visible. Later in the morning, the sun backlights the rocks, and it becomes very difficult to see the vibrant colors. This location is perfect if you’re not wanting to hike very far, but be aware that it’s a popular spot and has limited parking.

Zabriskie Point Elopement Location

If you’ve seen photos of Death Valley National Park, I bet you’ve seen this iconic spot. Zabriskie Point has amazing views of layered rocks and carved canyons as well as the distant mountains. Not far from the small parking area is an elevated overlook where you can take in a lot of the surrounding beauty. But if you want to do some more exploring, I highly recommend taking one of the many nearby paths! You can hike far or a short distance, it’s totally up to you. In the canyons and hills of the area, there are some great places to have your ceremony or enjoy the sunrise or sunset. Zabriskie Point is a popular spot in the park, so I recommend eloping at sunrise or sunset (plus, you get an even better view then!).

Dante’s View + Ridge Elopement Locations

If you envision your elopement ceremony or photos at sunset with mountains and great views, Dante’s Ridge is definitely the place! After driving a windy road to the high elevation parking area, you’ll find yourself looking out at gorgeous scenery in every direction. Although the view point at the parking lot is great, I highly recommend taking the one mile Dante’s View trail or the 9 mile Dante’s Ridge trail to Mt Perry for more privacy. Can you imagine saying your vows here surrounded by mountains with the valley below you? Amazing!

Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes Elopement Location

Exploring sand dunes on your elopement day can be so fun, and the views and scenery are gorgeous! Death Valley National Park actually has five different sand dunes, but Mesquite Flats is the easiest to get to. With the vastness of these dunes, it’s easy to have some privacy even when many other people are enjoying the area. The dunes have great views of the mountains in each direction and the surrounding desert. And for some extra fun, bring sand boards or sleds and surf the dunes! If you want a more private experience, I recommend checking out Ibex Dunes that are less frequented.

Death Valley National Park Wedding Permits + Rules

If you’re familiar with national park elopements, you know that most parks require a permit to get married there. The awesome thing about Death Valley is that you only need a permit for your ceremony and are allowed to take photos and explore without a permit. What’s great about that? If you decide to have your ceremony outside the park boundaries (at a venue, vacation rental home, etc.) or are opting to have a totally private vow reading with no officiant or guests (your ordained photographer – that’s me- can sign the marriage paperwork for you!), you don’t need a permit at all.

If you do decide to have your elopement or wedding ceremony in Death Valley National Park and invite guests, you’ll need to fill out an application for a Special Use Permit. It can feel a bit intimidating, but basically you just need to know when and where you want to get married. You’ll need to have a location picked out, know what time of day you want to do your ceremony, and also have a guest count. If you have any questions or concerns about the application, send an email or call the Special Use Permit Coordinator – she’s super helpful!

How much does a wedding permit cost for Death Valley National Park? Expect to pay $300, plus potentially a bit more for additional monitors. A park monitor will be present at your ceremony (they always give you respectful space) to make sure things go smoothly and the environment is taken care of. If you choose Breakfast Canyon for your ceremony, you’ll need two monitors (an additional one to operate the gate). You’ll likely pay no more than $50 per hour for a monitor, so really your total cost for the wedding permit is pretty minimal compared to a traditional venue!

Chairs or an arch for your ceremony are allowed in the park, but of course it depends on the location you choose. It’s important to note that real flowers (bouquet, decorations, petals, etc.) aren’t allowed in the park, but you’re welcome to bring silk, dried, or paper florals in.

Death Valley Wedding Venues

If you decide you’d prefer to get married outside of the park or your wedding has a large guest count, there are a few wedding venues in the area. Some venues also have the option to stay on the property and also offer resort-style amenities. This can be really convenient if you want to lodge with your friends and family or your guests have accessibility concerns. If you’re having an intimate wedding or elopement, you could also try to find a nice vacation rental that allows ceremonies on the property. Read below to see the best Death Valley Wedding Venue options!

The Ranch at Death Valley

The Ranch at Death Valley has the huge advantage of being within the park, but offering a private space for your ceremony (and no permit needed) as well as lodging and amenities. The venue includes a golf course, natural spring-fed pool, restaurant, and rooms. And if you want, you can go explore the park before or after you celebrate with your guests at the ranch’s wedding venue.

The Four Diamond Inn at Death Valley

Next to The Ranch at Death Valley, The Four Diamond Inn is another great place for your wedding or elopement. It’s conveniently located near the Death Valley National Park visitor center and is a short drive to places like Zabriskie Point and Artist’s Palette. The 1920’s resort looks out at the desert and mountains, and includes private casitas. Ceremonies on the property are beautiful with options among the palm trees or under a beautiful Spanish-style stucco arch.

Sanders Family Winery

A winery is definitely different scenery from Death Valley, but that could be a great thing! This wedding venue accommodates up to 100 guests and is located in Pahrump, Nevada, just over an hour away from the Death Valley visitor center. Sanders Family Winery has a tree lined drive that leads up to a beautiful stucco building. The back patio is the perfect spot for a reception or dinner, and the grape vines have a lovely view of mountains in the background.

Cherry Clouds Oasis

If you’re looking for a quirky outdoor place to host your wedding reception or intimate elopement dinner, Cherry Clouds Oasis is a great option. This venue has a covered patio with tables and chairs and a retro vibe for up to 24 people if you want to host a small dinner. If you want to be under the stars, the property can accommodate up to 100 guests. There’s also an outdoor kitchen and bar if you want to make your own food, or hiring a catering team is an option. Finish out your awesome elopement day around the fire, or stay the night at one of the venue’s funky campers (or rent their desert boat!). The wedding venue is about an hour and a half outside of Death Valley National Park.

Ready to plan your Death Valley elopement?

Hey, I’m Julie — I’d love to help you craft an elopement day full of peace, enjoying nature, and deep connection with each other and document every moment! 📸

Most couples lack the time and expertise to plan an epic elopement day. And that’s why I’m here to help you create a meaningful celebration with ease. ✨


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Julie Haider is an adventure elopement photographer + planner based in New Mexico and photographing destination elopements worldwide.


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