White Sands National Monument is a great day trip, located in sunny New Mexico, just 15 miles from Alamogordo, NM and 52 miles from Las Cruces, NM.
White Sands is an absolutely amazing place to visit, it is the world’s largest gypsum, or white sand, dune field, covering over 275 square miles of the desert.
As you approach White Sands, the dunes are filled with shrubs, yuccas and other small plants, but as you go deeper into the dune field, the dunes become larger, pure white with virtually no vegetation.
The price of admission is $3.00 per person. White Sands National Monument is open year-round from 7:00 in the morning until sunset. However, when White Sands Missile Range is testing a missile, the dunes are closed for up to three hours, as is Highway 70 between Las Cruces and Alamogordo. If you are planning a trip to White Sands, it would be best to call ahead to check on road closures, the number to call is: 575-678-1178.
The White Sands National Monument visitor center has some very interesting souvenirs, probably worth checking out before you hit the dunes. Also, waxed snow saucers can be purchased or you could bring your own snow board. Sledding down the dunes is a ton of fun for both the young and young at heart!
The park hosts several events throughout the year. On full moon nights, the park is open longer and you can bring your bicycle and enjoy a liesurely ride through the moon-lit dunes.
If you don’t have a bike or prefer walking, the park offers a full moon hike with a ranger, or if you can’t stay up that late, try joining a ranger for a leisurely sunset stroll and learn all about how White Sands was formed.
There is another tour offered of Lake Lucero, this is the dry lake-bed at the foot of the Organ Mountains, which is instrumental in the formation of White Sands. The tour is three hours long and ranger guided. Don’t forget to wear comfortable hiking shoes or boots, a hat, sunglasses and bring some snacks, sunscreen and especially water (one gallon/per person is required).
Registration is required for most events so you will want to book early and I don’t mean just a day or week in advance! Extra fees may also be required.
On full moon summer nights, May through October, you can enjoy music and educational presentations with no registration or additional fees required.
White Sands National Monument is definitely worth the trip! I would suggest going either early in the morning or late in the evening, so the sand won’t be so hot and don’t forget to bring your camera for some of the most beautiful sunset pictures you will ever get!
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