White Sands National Monument is the largest gypsum sand desert in the world. This gives it a white color, almost immaculate, which makes it a real playground for photography lovers and you will have a lot of fun. A must if you visit New Mexico!
Visit White Sands National Monument
Although the desert extends as far as the eye can see, the park itself is not very big. Indeed, part of this dessert serves as a training ground for the US Army. After, the visitor service center, the main road of the park will take you to the middle of the white dunes, making you make a small loop (“Loop Drive”) before retracing your steps.
Along the “Dunes Drive,” there are many stops giving access to various trails and picnic tables. Even if you can easily get off these trails, this remains to be avoided for safety reasons but also to respect the vegetation that grows in this arid place and needs to be protected. It is therefore advisable to follow the markings although no path is drawn, sand and wind covering the footsteps of visitors. You can easily find yourself alone in the world, surrounded by white dunes with only one companion, the sun!
Several small hikes exist, therefore. Know that you can easily make several during your visit. Be careful and take enough water with you as temperatures can easily reach 40C. Although the site is beautiful, you should know that the landscape changes little from one hike to another. Only the vegetation disturbs the white design of this exceptional dessert.
It is also possible to rent or buy saucers for sled on the sand at the entrance of the site ($ 10- $ 15). Several dunes along the main road will allow you to enjoy some slips under the sun.
You can also pitch your tent to camp and spend the night in this white desert. This will require a Backcountry Permit at the Visitor Center. If you do, remember not to arrive too early because the day in the desert and under the sun may seem long. Arrive after the hot hours of the early afternoon. Another point to consider (explained by people met on site who have experienced the experience); the sand that goes everywhere. You may end up with sand in your tent, sleeping bag, bag, clothes, shoes … So try to be minimalist for this night on the dunes if you do not want to live with sand for the rest of your stay. Leave what is not useful in your vehicle.
Accessibility to White Sands NM Park
Located in southern New Mexico, between Alamogordo and Las Cruces, White Sands NM is part of the national park system, so admission will be free if you have the “America The Beautiful” pass ($ 80). For others, admission is $ 5 for 16 years and over. The park is far from the busiest but tries to arrive early or late afternoon to avoid the hot weather when the sun will be at its zenith. For photography enthusiasts, several tips are given on the site of the park.
How long to plan to visit White Sands National Monument?
It all depends on your desire to enjoy the desert and its dunes, but in half a day (3 hours), you will have plenty of time to enjoy the places, the sun and the lack of shade to want to look for some freshness.
If the park is quick to visit, it is still beautiful, a real favorite and a must in this beautiful state that is New Mexico!