White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument

Quick Facts

White Sands National Monument

New Mexico

(575) 679-2599

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

At the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert, stark-white sand sparkles under the blue skies. Rising from the heart of the Tularosa Basin is one of the world's great natural wonders- White Sands National Monument. Here, great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert and have created the world's largest gypsum dune field. The brilliant white dunes are ever changing: growing, cresting, then slumping, but always advancing. Slowly but relentlessly the sand, driven by strong southwest winds, covers everything in its path. Within the extremely harsh environment of the dune field, even plants and animals adapted to desert conditions struggle to survive.

Be sure to stop by the White Sands Visitor Center, which includes a museum, information desk, orientation video, book store, gift shop and restrooms.

Map of White Sands

Latitude, Longitude: 32.781412, -106.175794

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Activities

  • Bicycling

    Bicycling is allowed along the Dunes Drive. Bicyclists must pay the standard park entrance fee. Helmets are required, and no off-road bicycling is permitted. All bicycles must stay on the Dunes Drive or parking areas.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    The Dunes Drive, an eight-mile scenic roadway, leads from the visitor center into the heart of the White Sands dune field. Allow 30-minutes driving time for this 16-mile round trip, plus additional time for hiking, photography, sand play and other recreational activities.

  • Hiking

    There are a few different trails within the park, each with varying mileage and difficulty. Be prepared when hiking in the desert. Take plenty of water and snacks. There is no water in the park, so be sure to fill up at the Visitor Center before you go.

  • Picnicking

    Along the Dunes Drive, there are picnic tables and pit toilets available, some of which are wheelchair accessible.

Seasonality/Weather

The Tularosa Basin, a high desert area, averaging 4,000-feet in elevation, is subject to harsh, and sometimes rapidly changing climatic conditions. Spring is a windy season. Summers are hot, averaging 95°F highs with occasional readings over 100°F. Winters are relatively mild, but night-time temperatures often drop below freezing. Snowfall is infrequent, though heavy snows have occurred on occasion. Precipitation averages about 10-inches per year, with most falling during summer thunderstorms, often accompanied by lightning and hail.

Park Partners

White Sands Trading Company

White Sands Trading Company's gift shop and grab-and-go food and beverage area are housed in one of seven adjacent buildings officially designated as the White Sands National Monument Historic District. Designed by Lyle Bennett, architect of the Pueblo-Revival style for the NPS, these adobe structures were built between 1936 and 1940. Be sure to note the original vigas (logs that support the roof), the extremely thick adobe walls and the Saltillo tile floor.

The gift shop offers items that have been carefully selected to enhance your experience of White Sands and the surrounding area. You'll find authentic Native American handcrafts including hand coiled, wood-fired pottery and Zuni, Hopi, Santo Domingo and Navajo jewelry. Also available are sand toys, sleds and kites, regional food products, souvenirs (T-shirts, mugs, caps, etc.), and breathtaking prints of White Sands. The grab-and go food station sells snacks and sandwiches, water, juices and soda.

Directions

Driving

The visitor center is located on U.S. Highway 70/82, 15-miles southwest of Alamogordo, and 52-miles east of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Travelers from Carlsbad Caverns to southern Arizona can follow U.S. 82 through the scenic Sacramento Mountains to White Sands National Monument.

Flying

El Paso, Texas International Airport is the closest airport to White Sands National Monument.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(575) 679-2599

Links