• 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 »


    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.

Playa Trail

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?

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."