So you're ready to propose in Death Valley National Park...
But how exactly should you do it? What are the most scenic spots? Can you find any privacy? What time of day? Can you hire a photographer to capture it? If this is you, keep reading!
Where should I propose in Death Valley National Park?
The first thing you need to do is assess how much time you have here in the park. This place is massive! Only driving through? Definitely choose an easily accessible frontcountry location like Zabriskie Point or Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes (beautiful and right off the main highway). Going into the backcountry? Consider Eureka Dunes, Ibex Dunes, or The Racetrack.
You can also narrow down the locations by asking yourself what your partner loves (or hates!). If they hate walking in sand, don't choose the sand dunes. Do they really love sweeping views? Consider something like Dante's View that overlooks the whole valley. Looking for something totally unique? Propose in a slot canyon or at the salt flats. History buff? Explore an abandoned mining camp.
All of these options are beautiful. What makes the biggest impact is demonstrating the thoughtfulness behind your planning. Keep your partner at the forefront of your mind during this whole process.
Here are some of the most popular, accessible, and stunning options:
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
What time of day is best?
If you want the most romantic, beautiful lighting go for one of the golden hours (the hour after sunrise or the hour before sunset). If you're hiring a photographer (yes, hi, hello!) this will also be the best lighting for photographs. I recommend choosing a time when you will both be in a good mood. For example, if your partner is NOT a morning person and will likely be grumpy that early, opt for sunset. It'll make the job of surprising them easier if you're not trying to hurry them up and transform their mood.
Can I hire you to figure out logistics for me?
Absolutely. Since I live in Death Valley National Park, I have years of experience photographing here in all sorts of locations and conditions. I know it's extremely stressful to plan a surprise proposal in a place you've never been to, let alone a place as vast as Death Valley.
Different couples value different things (How important is privacy in this moment? Do you hate heights? Love hiking?). I will work with you to recommend an ideal location and time of day that will give both of you a great experience and produce gorgeous photographs.
How will you recognize us and stay hidden?
You will send me photographs of the two of you ahead of time. I will also ask you to pick at least one item of clothing or unique accessory that you can absolutely commit to wearing on the day (examples: black beanie, red plaid shirt, blue windbreaker, a sweatshirt with your alma mater, a bright green backpack...anything). If you'll be dressed up or have any specifics you can provide about your outfits ahead of time to help me identify you, send it my way. The more information the better!
I blend into the surrounding crowds by pretending to take photos of the landscape around me. Once I spot you, I'll discretely walk behind you, still pretending to photograph the landscape or pretending to look at the back of my camera. But really I'll be ready to start snapping away as soon as you get on a knee (or when I see them starting to react to your words)!
Do I need to have a set-up (candles, rug, arch, flowers, etc)?
You do not need to have any set-up or props, but they are an option depending on where you want to propose. This is where you can add extra personal, meaningful touches. If something ultra-romantic and elaborate doesn't feel like you, then don't do it. Stay true to yourself, focus on expressing your love for your partner, and remember why you're doing this.
Keep in mind that Death Valley is a national park and comes with a lot of rules and restrictions about what you can or can't bring into the park (no organic plant matter, no arches/structures, no music, etc). So if you are seeking to do something with a set-up and lots of props, I recommend reaching out to The Oasis to use their private spaces for the proposal. See the photos below for an example of a proposal done on the hotel's property (Mission Gardens).