For a safe and enjoyable visit, White Sands National Park strongly recommends that you bring following items on your backcountry camping trip:
A minimum of one gallon (4 liters) of water per person, per day is essential. The last place to fill up your water containers is at the visitor center, which is located six miles (9.66 km) from the backcountry camping parking lot. It is vital that you take enough water to last you through the day and overnight. You will not be able to access water during the night.
Bring your permit trail map, park map, and a compass. A GPS may be handy but not always reliable here.
3. Sun protection
Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, sunglasses, and lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. Long sleeves and long pants help protect your skin from the sun.
Bring a cell phone and portable charger;brightly colored bandana, signal mirror, and whistle. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged when you arrive at the park and bring a portable charger (battery pack if you have one). There are no outlets for electricity available to charge cell phones or other electronics at the park.
While out in the dunes, you should turn your phone off or place in airplane mode. Conserving the battery for emergencies could mean the difference between life and death. In an emergency, call 911 first. Data and cellular strength can vary drastically in the park. For better service, head to higher ground. If you are unable to make a call, try to text a friend who can then call 911 for you. Remember to provide as much detailed information about your location if possible.
Bring a flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries as the dunes are quite dark at night. It is strongly suggested that you do not wander or leave your campsite after dark. It is extremely easy to get lost in the dunefield after dark.
6. First Aid
Bring a first aid kit tailored to the specific needs of your group.
Bring high-energy and easy to prepare food and snacks.
Bring clothing that can be layered and provide comfort in a variety of weather conditions. Even in the summer, nighttime temperatures can be cool and additional layers will be necessary.
Your camp must be set-up an hour before it gets dark. A tent is highly recommended. It can provide you with shelter from the weather. Your camp should be set-up within five feet (1.52 m) of the site marker at your assigned site. DO NOT camp on top of a dune. Everyone deserves a great view. Sleeping in your vehicle is not permitted.
More information about hiking safety can be found on our webpage hiking safety tips.