• The dunes in soft light

    White Sands

    National Monument New Mexico

There are park alerts in effect.
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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 »

  • 2014 WHITE SANDS BALLOON INVITATIONAL

    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 Alamogordo Balloon Fiesta Park in Alamogordo, NM. For more information call 800-826-0294 or (575) 437-6120.

  • 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.

Backpacking

Camping under a full moon
Camping under a full moon
R.Wiles image
 

Backcountry Primitive Camping (Backpacking)

For those who would like to spend a night camping beneath the stars in the dunes, White Sands National Monument has ten primitive backcountry camping sites available on a first-come-first-served basis. These sites are accessible by hiking the backcountry trail and are located between 3/4 of a mile to 1.1 miles from the start of the trailhead. There are no water or toilet facilities at the campsites. Ground fires are not allowed but camp stoves that use containerized fuel are permitted.

To obtain a backcountry camping permit, campers can stop into the visitor center up until
one hour before sunset. A site will be assigned when you receive your permit and no advance reservations are accepted. The cost is $3 per person per night for adults 16 and over, and children 15 and under are $1.50 per person per night. For more information, download our Backcountry Camping brochure.

Safety: Your safety is our primary concern. Always have at least a gallon of water per person when you are hiking or camping in the dunes. Water containers can be filled at the visitor center. The trail is well marked. Follow the markers to your campsite. We recommend that you try to be in your campsite before sunset, as it is very easy to get lost on the trail after dark. Please remember to carry out all trash.

For more tips on staying safe in the desert, visit our desert safety page or download our Desert Safety brochure.

Did You Know?

Photo of ripples on a dune

The wind moves small sand grains by bouncing them along the surface in a process called "saltation." Saltating sand grains create a beautiful pattern of ripples on the dune surface. Larger sand grains are struck by saltating grains and slowly roll forward, a process known as "surface creep."