Last Updated: 8/21/21 – The Best White Sands Visitor Guide
White Sands National Park 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 Park, you are in luck. In my White Sands Visitor Guide, I am going to give you all of the information that you will need to plan a memorable trip to this beautiful park. In this guide, I will cover the top things to see and do in White Sands National Park, where to stay while you visit, some of the other nearby attractions that you can see, and when it is best to visit the park.
How to Get There
White Sands National Park 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 then I would recommend you look at either El Paso, Texas or Albuquerque, New Mexico, which are the closest cities with international airports. For an idea of where White Sands is located in the United States, please refer to the location map I included in my White Sands Visitor Guide below.
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 gunfight at the OK Corral) and the Cochise Stronghold in the Coronado National Forest. For some ideas on how to get to White Sands National Park, please refer to the driving map I included in my White Sands Visitor Guide below.
Pro Tip: If you are using GPS to navigate to White Sands, make sure you input “White Sands National Park”. If you input “White Sands” the GPS may take you to the White Sands Missile Range, which is 25 miles West of the park.
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.
|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 the possibility of snow.|
|MAR-MAY||75°F||40°F||Moderate temps but high winds up to 50MPH.|
Average Monthly Temperature (F)
Average Monthly Precipitation (Inches)
Average Monthly Visitors (in 1,000’s)
Top Things to See and Do
White Sands National Park 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.
- White Sands National Park – Map
- White Sands National Park – Plan Your Visit
- White Sands National Park – Things to Do
- Alamogordo, NM – Tourism Guide
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 Park, 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.
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 a 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.
Camping at White Sands National Park 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 Park, 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
Alamogordo is approximately 16 miles Northeast and is the closest city to White Sands National Park. 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.
- New Mexico Museum of Space History
- Desert Lakes Golf Course
- Desert Foothills Park
- Tunnel Vista Observation Site
Where to Stay
Because of its close proximity to the White Sands National Park, the city of Alamogordo is the perfect place to use as a hub as you explore the area. If you are planning a trip to White Sands and need to find accommodations, I have included some recommended options at various price-points for you to review below.
Here are just some of the stunning pictures we were able to capture in White Sands National Park. It really is a photographer’s dream.
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