• The dunes in soft light

    White Sands

    National Monument New Mexico

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  • Closures and Missile Tests

    Upcoming Missile Tests: From time to time the missile range that surrounds us performs missile testing that may require the closure of the park or Highway 70. Please follow the link below for up to date information on closures More »


    The White Sands Balloon Committee and the Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce will be hosting both days of the Balloon Festival on Sept 20-21 at the Ed Brabson Balloon Park on Lavelle Rd in Alamogordo. Call Pat at (575) 430-9226 from 8-5 pm MDT.

  • Summer Monument Hours

    The monument currently opens at 7 a.m. and closes roughly 1 hour after sunset. More »

  • Road Safety Corridor

    The first four miles of Dunes Drive is a road safety corridor. Slowing or stopping in the corridor is prohibited. Dune Life Nature and Playa trails are also temporarily closed. The staff of White Sands National Monument apologizes for the inconvenience.

African Rue

African Rue

Photo by G.A. Cooper, courtesy of Smithsonian Institution

African Rue originated in North Africa and in the deserts of Asia, where it was used in the production of red dye. It was first recognized as an invasive species near Deming, New Mexico in the 1920s. The plant is highly toxic to both humans and animals if eaten, although dehulled seeds do produce an edible oil that is very similar to cottonseed oil.

African Rue can be recongized by its numerous, dense branching stems, which are bright green, smooth and fleshy, like its leaves. In the spring and summer, it produces small, five-petaled white flowers that grow at leaf axils along the stem. When crushed, the plant has a bitter, acrid taste and emits a very unpleasant odor.

Did You Know?

Photo of sand grains

The gypsum that makes up the white sands starts out as clear, translucent sand grains. As the wind bounces the sand grains along the ground, they collide and scratch each other. The scratches change the way light reflects off the grains, making the sand appear white.