White Sands Essentials

two visitors, one is holding a small child, silhouetted against a pink sunset sky
White Sands National Park is an incredible place to visit. Planning ahead for this unique and challenging park allows you to best experience White Sands the way you want to.

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Welcome to White Sands National Park

Rising from the heart of the Tularosa Basin is one of the world's great natural wonders - the glistening white sands of New Mexico. White Sands National Park preserves a major portion of this unique dunefield, along with the plants and animals that live here. Learn more about the park and make plans for your visit at

Person wearing bandana over face holds a camera at sunset.
Planning ahead for a visit to White Sands National Park is the key to having an incredible experience.

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Check Park Hours

White Sands National Park's operating hours change throughout the year. The park opens at 7:00 am each day and the closing hours vary. The visitor center also has varying hours throughout the year. Check the parks operating hours for the most up to date information on when the park and visitor center opens and closes.

White Sands National Park is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Check Park Closures

White Sands Missile Range regularly conducts military tests. For visitor safety, the only road into the dunefield, Dunes Drive, may be closed for periods of up to three hours during missile tests. Park staff is usually notified two weeks in advance of scheduled tests; however, notifications from White Sands Missile Range may be received up to 24 hours in advance of a test. Park staff work to inform the public as far in advance as possible for upcoming tests and park closures. For up to date closure information, visit the park closure page.

silhoetted person with a backpack hiking on the top of a dune ridge. Leaving tracks in the sand.
Exploring White Sands can be a life changing experience. Make sure you check out the park's safety pages to be ready for the harsh conditions at the park.

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Bring Water and Sun Protection

White Sands National Park is located in the Chihuahuan desert. Drinking water is sparse and the sun beats down upon the dunes and visitors to the park almost every day.

To safely visit the park, we suggest that each person carry at least one gallon(4 Liters) of water.The only place in the park that water is available is the visitor center. Water is sold in the White Sands Trading Post. Please make sure you have water with you before heading into the park.

Sun protection is needed year round at White Sands. Hats, sunscreen, and breathable long sleeve shirts are suggested to keep the harmful rays of the sun from causing significant sunburns. The white gypsum sand of the dunes reflects roughly 80% of the suns rays. Sun burns can become extremely dangerous very quickly on sunny days in the park.

Plan Ahead

White Sands National Park is located along state highway 70 between Alamogordo and Las Cruces. The park is surrounded by White Sands Missile Range which limits amenities near the park. When visiting the park, plan ahead and make sure you have a plan for lodging, food, water, and gas. The closest services to the park are 20 minutes away in the town of Alamogordo. When traveling from Las Cruces, the park is roughly an hour away with no services in between.

The White Sands Trading Post at the park does sell water and has limited food options.

Enjoying the Dunes

White Sands National Park gives you the incredible experience of exploring the largest gypsum dunefield in the world. People choose to experience this place is a variety of ways. Check out the parks things to do page to get an idea on how you could spend your day at the park.

No matter how you choose to enjoy the park, always remember to leave no trace. Following these principles helps keep White Sands a place that yourself and future generations can continue to enjoy.

White Sands National Park

Last updated: January 18, 2024