Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is White Sands National Monument all about?
White Sands National Monument was created to protect part of the world's largest gypsum dune field. While many dune fields exist around the world, most are made up of typical brown quartz and other minerals. Only a handful of gypsum dune fields are known, and the white sands dune field is by far the world's largest, covering 275 square miles. The monument also protects the plants and animals that have adapted to the extreme conditions of the dune field. More information.
Q. Can I learn about rockets and atomic bombs there?
No. White Sands National Monument was created in 1933, before the development of modern rocketry and atomic bombs. The Monument is not a part of the adjacent White Sands Missile Range. You can learn about the military history of the area at the White Sands Missile Range museum and missile park, located 35 miles west of White Sands National Monument. For more information, call 575-678-2250. More information.
Q. How do I get to White Sands National Monument?
White Sands National Monument is located along U.S. Highway 70, 14 miles west of Alamogordo, New Mexico, and 52 miles east of Las Cruces, New Mexico. The nearest major airport is in El Paso, Texas, about 85 miles south. There is no public transportation to or through the park. More information and maps.
Q. What are the park hours?
Hours for the Dunes Drive vary by season. Due to missile testing or inclement weather, it is sometimes closed. Please call ahead to confirm hours, especially if you are traveling a long distance to visit.
The park Visitor Center is generally open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the summer. Fall hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. the rest of the year. For more specific operating hours...
Q. What is the cost of entering the park?
Entrance fees are $3 per adult (16 and over). Children are free. Your entrance fee is valid for one week. National Park passes are honored and allow all visitors in private vehicles in free. More information.
Q. Can I take my RV on the Dunes Drive?
Yes. The Dunes Drive is suitable for RV's, trailers and buses. There are numerous large parking areas along the Dunes Drive where RV's can turn around.
Q. What can I do when I get to the park?
Check the Things to Do page for various activities.
Q. What do I need to know before I come?
Check the Things to Know Before You Come page.
Q. What kind of weather can I expect when I get there?
Click here for current weather forecast.
Q. Are pets allowed in the park?
Pets are welcome in the park. They must be on a leash at all times and you must clean up after them.
Q. Are ATVs and off-road driving permitted in the park?
No. All vehicles must be street-legal and stay on designated roads. The mission of the National Park Service is to protect the environment, and off-road driving damages the fragile desert ecosystem.
Q. Can I collect white sand to take home?
No. All resources within a National Park area are protected for future generations. The taking of sand or other natural and historic objects is strictly prohibited. Take only pictures; leave only footprints.
Q. Is camping allowed in the park?
There is no campground within the park. A list of Area Campgrounds can be found on this web site. For backpackers, there are primitive backcountry campsites for overnight use. Backpackers must obtain a permit at the Visitor Center on the day of arrival. Backcountry campsites are not available during times of White Sands Missile Range testing.
Q. Is there food and lodging in the park?
No. The nearest motels and restaurants are in Alamogordo, 14 miles east. The park Gift Shop has packaged sandwiches, snacks and drinks.
Q. Is the Trinity site here in the monument and can I visit it?
No, the Trinity site is not within the monument's boundaries. It is located approximately 70 miles north of us and is on the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR). The missile range only allows the public access to the site twice a year on the first Saturday of April. For more information, download our brochure.
Q. Is metal detecting allowed in the monument?
No. Metal detecting is prohibited under the Code of Federal Regulations 36 CFR 2.1.