White Sands National Monument Visitor Guide

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White Sands National Monument in Southwest New Mexico is a stunning landscape

White Sands National Monument is lesser known than some of the other national parks and monuments of the American Southwest, but it is an absolute gem.  Some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets I have ever seen have been in White Sands.  The color of the landscape in the setting or rising sun is strikingly beautiful.

If you are planning a visit to White Sands National Monument, you are in luck.  We are going to give you all the information you need to make sure that your trip is a memorable one.

How to Get There


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White Sands National Monument is located in Southwest New Mexico near the town of Alamagordo.  There is a regional airport located in Alamagordo, New Mexico, but if you are looking to fly into a major airport we included the estimated driving time from the closest cities with large airports below.

Albuquerque, New Mexico 3.5 hours
El Paso, Texas 1.5 hours
Tucson, Arizona 5 hours

When we visited, we flew into El Paso so that we would be close enough to drive to see Big Bend National Park and Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas, as well as Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico as well.  However, if you fly into Tucson it will put you right next to Saguaro National Park and other interesting attractions such as Tombstone, Arizona  (location of the infamous gun fight at the OK Corral) and the Cochise Stronghold in the Coronado National Forest.

Pro Tip:  If you are using GPS to navigate to White Sands, make sure you input “White Sands National Monument”.  If you input “White Sands” the GPS may take you to the White Sands Missile Range, which is 25 miles West of the monument.

Best Time to Visit

Before planning your trip to White Sands, one thing you will want to take into account is what type of weather to expect during your visit.  Knowing the average temperature and amount of rainfall to be expected during the season you visit will help you be prepared.

Months High Low Notes
JUN-SEP 95°F 50°F Hot weather. Rainy season JUL-SEP.
SEP-NOV 80°F 40°F Days sunny and moderate with light winds.
DEC-FEB 60°F 23°F Cold with possibility of snow.
MAR-MAY 75°F 40°F Moderate temps but high winds up to 50MPH.

Top Things to See and Do

White Sands National Monument is a stunning landscape.  So much so that you will likely spend a great deal of time at first just taking in the beautiful scenery.  It is breathtaking, especially at sunrise and sunset.  We have outlined some great things to do at White Sands below, as well as included links to some other helpful resources for planning your trip.

Sunrise and Sunset Pictures

White Sands is a stunning landscape as it is, but at sunrise and sunset its beauty is jaw-dropping.  If we are to give you any one piece of advice for visiting White Sands National Monument, it would be to make sure you get up early to catch the sunrises and stay to watch the sunsets.  Believe us, you will not regret the extra effort.

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If you decide to hike in White Sands, make sure you bring more water than you think you will need.

Take a Hike

White Sands is a beautiful place to take a hike.  Believe it or not, it really isn’t all that difficult to walk on the sand.  There is an water table just below the surface at White Sands that holds the sand from blowing away.  This same water table makes it much easier to walk on the sand than if you were walking on dry sand dunes.

One piece of advice we cannot stress enough though is to make sure you bring enough water on your hike.  This is especially true during the hot months of June thru September.  Whatever you think you will need, make sure you bring more.

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Backcountry Camping

Camping at White Sands National Monument can be a very memorable experience.  Sleeping among the white sand dunes under the stars is so peaceful and beautiful.  And, it is a very affordable option for accommodations.  If you would like to camp out at White Sands National Monument, we have included a list of things you will need to know below.

  • Car and RV camping is not permitted in White Sands
  • The campgrounds are backcountry, and require you to hike at least a mile to reach the camping areas
  • Cost to camp is $3.00\person for individuals over 16 years-old, and $1.50\person for everyone under 16 years-old.
  • Follow the orange trail markers for the backcountry camping trail to locate the camping areas.
  • Be cautious of using GPS as it can be an unreliable guide in the backcountry
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Camping in White Sands National Monument is very affordable and a neat way to experience the area.


Alamagordo is approximately 16 miles Northeast and is the closest city to White Sands National Monument.  You will find hotels and restaurants in the city, making it a great place to unwind after a busy day exploring White Sands.

If you are looking for some other activities in the area to supplement your trip, there are some other cool things to do and see in the Alamagordo area that are worth checking out.  We have included a list of some ideas for you below.


Alamagordo is about 15 minutes from White Sands National Monument.

Photo Gallery

Here are just some of the stunning pictures we were able to capture in White Sands National Monument.  It really is a photographer’s dream.

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