Are you looking for an unforgettable way to pop the question or have memorable engagement photos? Death Valley is the perfect place to make a lifelong memory, with its stunning and diverse landscape. Whether you want a simple, romantic sunset proposal or an epic adventure through the park's canyons, this guide will provide all the tips and inspiration you need to plan your Death Valley engagement.
Understand the Unique Geological Features of Death Valley
Death Valley is a unique place featuring extreme temperatures and distinctive geological features. As we entered the park, you could see for miles. I felt like I was viewing the earth from a birds eye view. You can see for miles and it truly left me with a feeling of spaciousness, creativity and freedom. The sound of silence is deafening. A welcome sound since driving in from Vegas where your senses are bombarded with noise and lights.
Temperatures reach up to 120 degrees in the summer, so it’s important to prepare for the heat by bringing plenty of water and wearing appropriate protective clothing. When hiking through canyons and other areas, it’s essential to remember that even small rocks can be slippery and dangerous, so plan accordingly. Finally, make sure you have estimated your time carefully and have a reliable means of communication when in remote areas.
Choose an Ideal Location for your Engagement or Elopement
Death Valley offers a variety of picturesque locations for elopements and engagements. From the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes to Badwater Basin, take some time to research which location would suit your needs and you and your partner’s preferences best. Make sure that your desired spot is accessible by car and that you check the weather prior in order to plan accordingly. This is where I come in to help you plan and prepare for the most memorable adventure elopement or engagement experience.
Choosing the Best Time of Year to Elope or Have Your Engagement
It is essential to consider the desert's distinct weather and light conditions when photographing in Death Valley. There is no wrong time of day to elope or have your engagement in Death Valley. This is because its diverse terrain and features make it easy to capture stunning photos that look amazing at any hour! Though temperatures are often brutally hot during the late spring through early fall high season, golden hour (or blue hour) in the low winter months provides some of the most breathtaking light and soft shadows you could ask for. Sunrise sessions are always recommended to avoid crowds of people.
The most ideal time to elope or have your engagement photos taken in Death Valley is late fall to early spring. Temperatures skyrocket during the day and avoid the deadly temperatures during summer.
Deanna + Casey’s Adventure Engagement Experience
Deanna + Casey chose the perfect time of year, December to have their adventure engagement photos with mild temperatures ranging from 50-70 during the day with a dry climate.
They flew in from Texas to Las Vegas and drove two hours to Death Valley. These two adventurers love to travel to National Parks and Deanna loves California. We had so much fun from noon until sunset for the ultimate adventure experience. Since they traveled so far, they extended a typical 90-minute engagement session to a half-day experience. A wise choice for such a massive national park full of geological wonders.
We met at noon at Zabriske Point! A very popular location where you will find lots of people enjoying this wrinkled desert landscape with marbled rocks, vistas and canyon trails in the distance. You don’t have to walk far to have a beautiful view. This is one of the easiest locations to elope or have engagement photos when visiting Death Valley.
After our adventures at Zabriske Point, we drove to Artists Palette, a one way, 3 mile road that has tremendous views of the multi-colored rocks and hairpin curves. Warning, if you are towing a trailer, 25 feet is the limit for this road. From this scenic road, the sun came out and the sky was the bluest I had seen all week. We climbed up the purple sandy point and wandered through a few canyons for the epic multi-colored backdrop. Here is an example of a before and after photo where I removed all the people in the background. I don’t typically do this, but wanted to show you why it’s important to go to any national park early in the morning.
We were driving our Native Campervans rental and created a charcuterie board to share with Deanna and Casey. A tasty mid-day snack and break we all needed for this epic adventure. It’s always a wise idea to pause and take in the scenery and not rush from one location to the next. One of the most enjoyable ways to have an experience is to take your time and relax. I love putting my couples at ease and making them feel comfortable wherever they are.
Our final destination was Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes about 45 minutes from Artists Way. We wanted to see the sun set over the dunes and mountains. When we arrived, as you can imagine the parking lot was full and so were the sand dunes. It takes time to walk out to the least crowded sand dunes, at least a mile hike in the sandy hills. You will get dirty and dusty, so be prepared to wear shoes you don’t mind getting dirty (as well as clothing) or go barefoot. You will want to bring water and wear comfortable clothing for this location. Thank goodness for Lightroom’s AI spot removal tool where I was able to remove people from the background of Deanna + Casey’s engagement photos.
My husband, George and I saw the sunrise at the Sand Dunes a day before and it was absolutely gorgeous. A lot less people, the lighting was different and thoroughly enjoyable.
We headed to Stovepipe Wells, the closest town to have dinner with Deanna + Casey at the local saloon. A true wild west experience where you can enjoy a delicious burger and beer for dinner. After we said our goodbyes, Deanna and Casey drove about 90 minutes outside the park to their hotel for the night.
There are a few hotels to choose from within the park and several campgrounds if you need accommodations. Expect to drive at least 90 minutes to the nearest town for accommodations.
Without further ado, check out Deanna + Casey's Adventure Engagement Experience in Death Valley!
Things to Consider before your Elopement or Engagement in Death Valley
- Sunrise is always the best time of day to enjoy this beautiful landscape without crowds.
- Buy an America The Beautiful Park Pass for $80 (yearly membership to get you into any national park) or pay $30 at the entrance kiosk or visitors center.
- There is no cell phone service.
- Before entering the park, prepare ahead of time and communicate with each other.
- Buy a Death Valley map and know exactly where you want to go, GPS won’t work in the park.
- Have plenty of gas in your car. Gas up before you get to Death Valley or fill up in Furnace Creek or Stovepipe Wells.
- Have plenty of water and snacks.
- Bring layers, the park can be windy as there are no trees to block the wind.
- Bring sunscreen, hat and sunglasses.
- Nights are cold, days can be hot.
- Book your place to stay in the park or be prepared to drive at least 90 minutes to your accommodations.
Deanna + Casey are the sweetest and give the warmest hugs! Here's what they had to say about their adventure engagement experience! I'm excited to see them in November for their destination wedding in Fredricksburg, TX!
In Casey's words, "We aren't normally photo people, but you made us feel comfortable and confident throughout. It was such a fun and easy experience!"
In Deanna's words, "It was so fun to do something we would normally do, go on a hiking trip and have that captured as significant to our relationship by celebrating our engagement during it! I'm obsessed with Corey. They're beautiful!"
Ready for your Death Valley Elopement!
I cannot wait to hear your vision for your adventurous death valley elopement!
Hi! I’m Corey! More than a photographer, I’m your down-to-earth friend who will guide you to have the best adventure of your lives through honest and artistic storytelling photographs that feel like you! While I live in New England, my adventures take me all over the U.S. and worldwide! Bonus, my husband, George is an officiant so that's included in your elopement experience!
Exploring National Parks and finding beautiful locations for adventurous couples like you lights me up! Southern California is a dream and Death Valley holds a special place in my heart. Where Earth Meets Sky, Welcome to Death Valley. Ahh, I cannot wait to help you create your dream day! I have so many ideas and locations in mind.
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