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11 Issues to Know Earlier than Visiting White Sands Nationwide Park, NM


Clambering up gypsum sand dunes in White Sands Nationwide Park in New Mexico, I half anticipated to see Will Smith dragging an alien in a parachute throughout this other-worldly panorama, like a scene from Independence Day.

The white sand dune area stretches so far as you may see, assembly the darkish line of San Andres mountains on the horizon. The glistening white of the sand makes the sky appear even bluer, making a distinction that’s merely gorgeous. Visiting White Sands Nationwide Park in New Mexico was the spotlight of our current journey to the Southwest and undoubtedly some of the lovely locations in New Mexico.

Visiting White Sands National Monument

Ever since I heard that you could possibly sled down the sand dunes at White Sands Nationwide Park in Southern New Mexico, I’ve waited for the chance to go to. Once I determined to increase our go to to Arizona with a mother-daughter street journey to New Mexico, it was the right alternative.  

The place to Keep Close to White Sands Nationwide Monument

Observe: This put up incorporates affiliate hyperlinks. For those who click on a hyperlink and make a purchase order, I could obtain a small fee.

Hotel Encanto Las Cruces pool
Resort Encanto in Las Cruces, NM

Since we have been driving over from Tucson, we stayed in Las Cruces, New Mexico. White Sands is about one hour from Las Cruces, an hour and a half from El Paso, Texas, and three hours from Carlsbad Caverns. (See this Carlsbad Caverns information if you wish to add on a go to.)

The smaller city of Alamogorda is close by, however I favored the lodge choices in Las Cruces higher. We stayed on the Resort Encanto in Las Cruces, which supplied a restaurant, pool, and a attraction that displays the realm’s Spanish and Mexican Colonial heritage.

In case you are coming down from Albuquerque, it’s a three and a half hour drive. Nonetheless, you may cease in a single day in Fact or Penalties, a small city identified for its pure sizzling springs.

That is about one hour and 45 minutes from White Sands Nationwide Monument. We stayed on the Sierra Grande Lodge & Spa on the evening after we visited White Sands and actually fell in love with this property.

Sierra Grande Lodge & Spa
Sierra Grande Lodge & Spa remedy room

Featured in Nationwide Geographic Traveler as one among ‘150 Lodges You’ll Love’, that is such a captivating and unassuming property. The service is great, the meals is scrumptious (breakfast is included), and the decor is charming.

It’s such a greater possibility than the chain lodges/motels round and never that costly. In addition they have a wonderful spa and a 30-minute soak of their indoor or outside sizzling tubs is included for every evening of your keep. We additionally splurged on a mother-daughter therapeutic massage after our soak and it was blissful.

What’s White Sands Nationwide Park?

Sledding in White Sands National Monument

White Sands Nationwide Monument was named White Sands Nationwide Park in December 2019. This park is within the Tularosa Basin in Southern New Mexico. The white sands dune area covers 275 sq. miles, making it the biggest gypsum dune area on this planet. The Nationwide Park preserves greater than half of this dune area.

At one level in historic historical past, this space was coated by the Permiari Sea. When that sea receded, it left deep layers of gypsum. Mountains shaped and raised the gypsum, however the receding of the glaciers after the Ice Age dissolved the gypsum and returned it to the basin.

Over the ages, wind and water have damaged down the gypsum to create sand. A gentle southwest wind retains shaping and reshaping the dunes.

Issues to Know Earlier than Visiting White Sands Nationwide Park

RV in White Sands National Monument

1. Examine Earlier than you Go

In case you are driving from Las Cruces or Interstate 25 within the west, you have to to undergo the White Sands Missile Vary. After they conduct missile checks, the street is definitely closed to visitors for as much as three hours and White Sand Nationwide Park can be closed.

Subsequently it’s good to examine the web site or name forward to examine for closures (575-479-6124) resulting from missile checks. For Freeway 70 closure info, name the White Sands Missile Vary at (575) 678-1178.

2. Be Ready for Random Stops

Additionally, you could encounter a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint earlier than you arrive on the Customer Middle. We truly needed to pull over and undergo two of those throughout our time in New Mexico.

We didn’t want to indicate any ID or reply questions, however the automotive in entrance of us was stopped for fairly a couple of minutes with plenty of backwards and forwards dialogue. It’s a little disconcerting to undergo these when not crossing the border however maybe that’s extra widespread in border states and this woman from the Northeast simply isn’t conscious of it.

White Sand dunes New Mexico

3. Watch out for the Warmth

In case you are visiting throughout the summer time, like we have been, be ready for the warmth. Temperatures can exceed 100°F throughout the day and the one shade you’re going to discover is in some picnic areas. Plus the sunshine reflecting off of that white sand is highly effective. You have to to deliver a powerful sunscreen, a great solar hat, and polarized sun shades — plus a lot of water!

4. Know When to Go to

In case you are visiting in the summertime, or actually anytime between mid-April by mid-October, it’s best to go to White Sands Nationwide Park early or later within the day to keep away from the best warmth and solar. After we visited in June, we arrived within the morning and had an fulfilling couple of hours earlier than it actually began to warmth up.

Ideally you’ll go to White Sand Nationwide Park throughout the cooler months and have enjoyable taking part in on the dunes all day.

sledding at White Sands

5. Deliver your personal Sled (should you can)

In case you are street tripping within the space, deliver alongside your personal sleds to avoid wasting cash. Nonetheless, if you’re flying in like we have been, you should purchase sleds within the present store simply behind the customer middle.

New sleds have been $18 and used sleds (if there are any) are $10. The present store additionally sells wax for the sleds to make them slide simpler. You may return your sled (and wax) after you’re completed and get $5 again.

Sledding in White Sands New Mexico

6. Take Care Driving by the Park

After stopping on the Customer Middle (you’ll want to inquire about any Ranger Applications which may be taking place that day), you’ll drive out onto Dune Drive. There are numerous locations to cease alongside the eight-mile scenic drive. The street begins out paved however then turns into packed sand so it would be best to take your time alongside the drive.

Fortunately, Dune Drive may be very straightforward to navigate so that you don’t want to fret about getting misplaced or lacking particular sights. When you get out onto the dunes, then you should listen so that you don’t get misplaced.

White sand dunes with mountains in the background

7. Discover the Steepest Hills off Dunes Drive

There’s a loop on the finish of Dune Drive and that is the place you will see that the steeper dunes which might be nice for sledding. Take your decide of parking heaps, however you could need to drop a pin on a mapping app or not less than be aware of the colour of the flag flying close to the car parking zone to make sure you could find your manner again.

The steepest hills supply the quickest sledding, however search for ones that finish in a gradual slope to make sure a smooth touchdown for these inevitable wipeouts. Keep in mind that strolling up the entrance of the dunes is hard work however well worth the enjoyable journey down.

Fortunately, the gypsum sand compacts properly and you’ll have a better time should you can stroll in another person’s footsteps. Even higher, take the good distance round and stroll up the gentler, firmer slopes to succeed in the highest.

Walking on White Sand dunes

8. Give Your self Loads of Time

We had initially deliberate on solely spending the morning in White Sands Nationwide Park, however we quickly discovered that it was not practically sufficient. We had a lot enjoyable climbing and sledding on the dunes that we each needed to remain longer.

There are quite a few picnic areas (however no water, that’s solely on the customer middle), so I might advocate arriving within the early morning and staying by lunch. Or, come within the later afternoon, have a picnic dinner after which benefit from the sundown over the dunes.

In contrast to parks like Yellowstone or Grand Teton, in the future in White Sands Nationwide Park is loads of time to get pleasure from your go to. There is no such thing as a have to spend a number of days within the park.

White Sands National Monument sign

9. Pack a Picnic

Since there isn’t any meals or water within the park, you have to to pack a picnic to get pleasure from a full day within the park. There are numerous picnic areas, some with shade, so that you can get pleasure from. Nonetheless, I did see many households, particularly these with RVs, that arrange an space on the high of a dune with folding camp chairs and a pop-up cover for solar safety so they might spend loads of time hanging out whereas the youngsters went sledding.

Simply keep in mind to Depart No Hint and convey a rubbish bag to hold out the whole lot that you simply pack in. I’d additionally advocate a cooler with ice and once more, heaps and many water or hydrating drinks.

Hannah with arms up on top of white sand dune

10. Stamp your Passport

White Sands is a part of the Nationwide Parks system and subsequently you need to use a Nationwide Parks “America the Lovely” Annual Move to cowl your entrance price (this was our first park of the yr for our move!)

Contained in the Customer Middle, you could find a stamp on your Nationwide Parks passport, which makes a enjoyable memento and approach to maintain observe of which parks you could have visited.

11. Pack Sensible

Remember to deliver sunscreen, refillable water bottles (the one refill station is on the customer middle), a hat, sun shades, lip balm with SPF safety, a sled (you probably have one), a towel to wipe the sand off, and a rubbish bag to hold out your whole trash.

I might advocate carrying comfy garments that you simply don’t thoughts getting sandy but additionally gained’t get sand caught in uncomfortable locations. Maybe deliver a change of garments for once you go away and put on flip flops or good exercise sandals with straps in order that they don’t fall off.

White Sands Nationwide Park is unquestionably one among our favourite spots within the Southwest and hopefully the following pointers will enable you put together on your journey!

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Tips for visiting White Sands New Mexico RV in the sand

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