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 »
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.
Distance from Visitor Center: 2.5 miles (4 km)
Length of trail: 500 yards (457 m), round-trip
Description of trail: This is a short, level trail that leads to a small playa. A playa is a shallow depression or low-lying area that fills temporarily with rainwater from storms. Most of the year, it is a dry lakebed. Playas are common features in desert environments. Lake Lucero, considered the modern source of the sand here, is a much larger playa that covers approximately 10 square miles (16 km). (Lake Lucero is located 15.5 miles (25 km) southwest of here and the only access is across White Sands Missile Range, making it inaccessible to the public except on monthly ranger-led tours. You can get a tour schedule at the Visitor Center.)
Did You Know?
Only the top few inches of the gypsum dunes are made of loose sand. Rainwater falling on the dunes dissolves some of the gypsum and cements the sand grains together, creating a crude form of plaster of Paris. This makes the white sand dunes easy to walk on.