Scattering Ashes

a black and white photo of joshua trees, mountains, and cloudy skies

The scattering of cremated human remains ("cremains") in Joshua Tree National Park should be a small private affair. A Special Use Permit is required to hold your activity. You will be given a two-hour window. We only permit one activity at a time please make sure you arrive during your permitted time frame. A map will be provided by the Permit Office of the approved location.

How to Apply

Complete the Special Use Permit Application and email to at least two weeks (10 business days) before the planned date for scattering ashes. There is a $120.00 fee for this permit. The park will send you instruction on how to make your payment online. Your request will be evaluated based on the information in your application. For further information, please email us at


If your application is approved, a Special Use Permit will be prepared and either emailed and/or mailed to you for signature. Upon receipt, please review, sign, and return the permit to our office for signature. After the National Park Service representative signs your permit, a copy of the permit will be forwarded to you. This should all be done well in advance of your chosen date. The approved, signed permit copy must be in your possession at the time of the event.

Terms and Conditions

To maintain park natural and cultural resources and quality visitor experiences in addition to the standard terms and conditions, the following conditions and requirements apply to Special Use Permits for scattering of cremains:

  1. Only human cremains may be scattered in the park. The scattering of other cremains is prohibited.

  2. Ashes must be fully refined with no detectable remains and shall not be distinguishable to the public.

  3. Scattering must result in complete dispersal of ashes. Cremains may not be piled in one location or buried.

  4. Ashes may only be distributed in the one approved area the park had assigned. Ashes may not be distributed in or near buildings, parking lots, or campgrounds. Location will be named on the permit.

  5. No rocks, vegetation or other natural resources will be moved, stacked, cut, or disturbed in any way.

  6. No monument, memorial, plaque, structure, urn, photo, or other commemorative item may be left within the boundaries of Joshua Tree National Park. Do not bring any potted plants, dried flower arrangements or any plant with seeds as these may introduce non-native or invasive species.

  7. The permittee recognizes and is aware of the sensitivity of this activity and agrees to perform it in a discreet and private manner.

  8. The permittee recognizes that the National Park Service (NPS) does not commit to treating the area as sacred or as a burial ground or cemetery. Park uses, operations and programs will be continued without regard to the presence of the cremains.

  9. Access to the area must be kept open to the public and the memorialization cannot interfere with normal visitor activity in any manner. The Park will not exclude nor allow you to exclude other park visitors from the site during the ceremony.

  10. The permit must be in your possession when scattering cremains.

Other stipulations may be added depending on the specific nature of your request.


Permit Office

The permit office is open Monday through Friday, 7:00 am to 3:30 pm (PST). We are closed on federal holidays. Permits may still be granted in advance for a Saturday or Sunday. Permits are not issued on federal holidays and NPS free entrance days.

Contact us

Phone: (760) 367-5551

74485 National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277
*We are located in office building 100 near the flag pole.

Last updated: December 31, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

74485 National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277-3597


760 367-5500

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