• The dunes in soft light

    White Sands

    National Monument New Mexico

Sunrise Photography

Sunrise over the dunes

R.Wiles image

Come join a ranger to see the first rays of the morning sun push over the Sacramento Mountains. This early morning porogram is focused on amateur or novice photographers. Rangers will share tips on taking great photos in the early morning light while allowing participants to capture their memories on camera.

The program is scheduled only twice a year. Reservations are required. To register for the hike, simply download the registration form and return it to us via email at whsa_interpretation@nps.gov or by fax at (575) 479-1116.

The registration period will open two weeks before each scheduled hike and the registration form will be available for download during that time until the hike is full. Once capacity has been met, the form will no longer be available.

Participation is limited to 20 individuals. Group size per reservation is limited to no more than 5 people. Children 10 years of age and older are welcome to participate.


Scheduled Programs for 2014:

  • Sunday, October 26, 2014 at 6:15 a.m.—Registration will open at 12:01 a.m. MST on October 12, 2014. Please note: a mistake on our schedule of events states that Oct. 26 is a Saturday, but it is actually a Sunday. Download the form

Cost: Program fees of $5 per adult and $2.50 for anyone 15 and under are required for this program. Once the program is over, monument entrance fees apply if you choose to enter the monument after it opens at 8 a.m.

Preparation: Participants must stay with the group and be physically capable of walking two miles in the dunes. They must also be prepared for cool morning temperatures. A winter hat, jacket, and gloves that still allow you to operate a camera are strongly recommended. Closed-toe shoes are required. Bring a flashlight. Participants must supply their own camera and other equipment (tripod, batteries, etc.). No equipment will be provided by the monument. Bulky equipment is not recommended for this program.

When You Arrive: The ranger will meet you at the gate by 5:55 a.m. to let you into the park. They will have a list with the names of registered participants. If you are not on the list, you will not be allowed in the park until the gates officially open at 7 a.m. The ranger will close and lock the gate by 6:10 a.m. to caravan visitors to the program area and begin the program. Photographers must stay with the ranger for the entire duration of the program.

Parking: The program will take place at the Cottonwood Grove, located 1.5 miles down a one-lane dirt road that is not accessible to visitors under any other circumstances. Two-wheel-drive vehicles will have no problem navigating the road but large vehicles such as buses, RVs and trailers are not permitted. Carpooling is encouraged to reduce the number of vehicles.

PLEASE NOTE: Those who wish to take sunrise photography but do not want to attend the program must pursue an early open permit.

Did You Know?

Photo of white lizard

Three species of lizards, one pocket mouse and numerous species of insects have evolved a white coloration for survival in the white sands.