A few years ago, I happened upon a picture of White Sands National Monument while scrolling through Pinterest (or something). I immediately wanted to go. White Sands is a stretch of the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico that features the most incredible white gypsum sand dunes. Unfortunately, White Sands was far. Like, a full 12 hours away from Los Angeles by car. It’s also pretty remote, so making the journey just for this park seemed a little silly.
But I was determined. I knew I’d get there eventually – I just didn’t know when. (Having approximately 83475239486789 places you want to visit at any given time is hard, ok?!) So when Ben suggested that we take a trip to New Mexico for Memorial Day weekend this year, I immediately said yes.
The plan was to fly to El Paso, then drive about an hour and a half to White Sands, where we’d spend the rest of the day before continuing on to other New Mexico attractions. It worked out perfectly. (I’ll go into more detail about how we structured the trip in another post. This attraction holds up on its own.)
In order get to White Sands, simply route to the White Sands Visitor’s Center from your favorite navigation app. I always recommend stopping at the visitor’s center when checking out a national park or monument. The rangers are always helpful and happy to provide info on their favorite trails and activities, as well as any pertinent warnings. If you’re worried about getting lost, you can also download a few maps from the National Park Service website.
How to Spend Your Time at White Sands
After stopping at the visitor’s center, we made our way to the end of the loop trail and explored the dunes there. The gypsum sand is cool to the touch, so you can (and should) take your shoes off and roam around barefoot. I know that doesn’t sound all that cool, but you’ll get it once you try it, I promise.
Another thing I highly recommend doing is buying a sled and some wax from the gift shop. Sled to your heart’s content, and then pass it on to a child or sell it back to the park for $5 when you’re done!
If you’re anything like us, you’ll kill a good amount of time exploring, sledding and taking pictures. But there’s also lots of cool educational stuff to check out! The Interdune Boardwalk is a short path with information on some of the local plant and animal life. The park also offers ranger-led hikes and programs that are both informative and fun. Be sure to look those up or ask about them at the visitor’s center!
Food and Water
There isn’t really any food in the immediate vicinity, so you’ll want to plan accordingly. Luckily, there are tons of picnic tables (with overhangs to shield you from the sun) scattered around the park. Pack a picnic and make sure to bring plenty of water.
Even if the temperature is moderate, you want to make sure you’re staying hydrated. Seriously – bring more water than you think you’ll need. The recommended amount is one gallon per person per day. Which… sounds like a lot. But as I always say, better to have extra than to die of thirst.
Same goes for snacks. Make sure to bring a salty snack or two with you to balance out all the water you’ll be drinking. It also never hurts to have a snack on hand in case you get lost.
And now you know everything you need to know to visit White Sands!
Or, y’know – enough. If you do decided to head out there, make sure you stick around for sunset. It’s a truly magical time. And of course, if you’ve been before (or plan on going) you should 100% reach out either on here or on Instagram. Because let’s be real – I’d love another excuse to talk about this majestic place.