• 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 »

  • New Monument Hours

    The monument currently opens at 8 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.

Seeing the Park by Car

Cars at sunset
 

Your first stop should be the White Sands visitor center, which includes a museum, orientation video, information desk, book store, gift shop and restrooms. Allow approximately 30 minutes for visitor center activities.

The Dunes Drive, an eight-mile scenic drive, leads from the Visitor Center into the heart of the dunes. This hard-surface roadway is suitable for cars, trailers and buses.

Allow 40 minutes driving time for the 16-mile roundtrip, plus additional time for walking, photography or stopping at pullouts.

Picnic areas and pit toilets are located near the end of the Dunes Drive. There is no water available in the dunefield. Water containers can be filled at the visitor center.

Wayside exhibits at pullouts along the Dunes Drive provide information about the natural history of the park. Numerous parking areas along the drive allow visitors to stop and walk in the white sands.

During the summer (Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day) the Dunes Drive may be entered from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., except during missile closures. All vehicles must exit the Dunes Drive by 10 p.m.

From Labor Day to Memorial Day, the Dunes Drive may be entered from 8 a.m. to sunset, except during missile closures. All vehicles must exit the Dunes Drive by one hour after sunset.

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."