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Sunrise Engagement Session | Joshua Tree National Park

Halie West Photography | Adventure Wedding Photographer


Early Rise for Adventure

Nick + Jill’s engagement session was an adventure. We started our little hike at 5:30 am to beat the sun. The air was still and stars poked out of the black night sky. The desert chill had us excited for the warm rays of the sun. We aimed to hike out onto the California Riding and Hiking Trail. The couple had backpacked the trail a few years before. This particular trail is 36.5 miles long and leads you through the park. Jill told me about how incredible it was to watch the desert landscape change so slowly as they hiked on. It’s not the experience you get by just driving through the park.

Joshua Tree National Park is made up of both the Sonoran Desert and the Mojave Desert. There is a dramatic change in the landscape as endless hills of bushes and cactus gardens give way to a forest of joshua trees and iconic rock formations. This shift marks the change in ecosystems. The desert is truly a diverse place to those who take the time to see it. Their backpacking trip was just one of the many adventures they have had in Joshua Tree. Nick + Jill’s love for this park has led to then to explore, hike, and climb in it countless times. Nick even proposed to Jill at Lost Palms Oasis which made shooting their engagement photos here so dang special!

Sunrise in the Desert

Our adventure along the trail didn’t go as planned as I took a wrong turn and led us down a drainage area rather than down the actual trail. We were unable to locate the trail, and settled on watching the sunrise from the sand as the sky grew brighter and brighter. Sometimes mistakes can add to the adventure, but I wish that we had been able to get to the trail before the first light. While formidable, the desert is a much more fragile ecosystem than one may believe. Crushing cryptobiotic soil or young plants can be devastating to the landscape as a whole. It is best to stick to established trails, climbing trails, rocks, or patches of sand when exploring in Joshua Tree.

An orange glow was cast over the eastern mountains as the sun came over the horizon. The joshua tree grove was filled with warm light. The sky turned shades of pink and orange. Nick and Jill snuggled up and held each other tight as they watched a perfect sunrise. They were simply at peace in one another’s arms. Sunrise is best to watch with the ones that you love, and no sunrise experience is ever the same. Waking up early is so worth getting to see the sky full of colors and a landscape that changes as the light grows brighter.

J Tree is for Climbing

No trip to Joshua Tree is complete without some rock scrambling or rock climbing! We climbed around on a rock pile while the sun peeked over the surrounding mountains. Nick + Jill are both rock climbers so we were sure to get in some crack and chimney climbing. We finished up our session with a pancake breakfast and some well earned coffee. The desert awoke around us, and the sand at our feet became warmed by the rising sun. There is no better way to start off a morning in Joshua Tree than by joining the sun as it awakens the desert.

Looking for someone to capture your own sunrise engagement session or adventure wedding? Get in touch! Let’s go on an adventure together. Want to get married in a National Park? Check out this guide for what you need to achieve your dream!