Early Entry - Stay Late

Orange and yellow clouds streak across the sky with white sand dunes dimly lit in the foreground.
Cloudy sunrises often give you the chance to see beautiful pink streaks in the sky.

R.Burghart Photo

While many National Park Service areas may be entered at any time, day or night, from sunrise or sunset to view wildlife and take photos, White Sands is different. Park and visitor center operating hours vary by season. If you would like to enter early or stay late to enjoy a sunrise or the night sky, you must request a permit to entry early or stay late.

How to Request an Early Entry or Stay Late

  • Download and complete the special use permit application.
  • Download and read the White Sands Special Park Uses FYI document.
  • Submit the completed special use permit application to whsa_permits@nps.gov. The application must be received by the park no less than 21 days prior to the start of the event. Enter the requested date and write "early entry or stay late" in the subject line.
  • Place a secure credit card payment for the application fee over the phone at 575-479-6124 ext. 206. Early entry and stay late permits are subject to administrative fees of $75.00 per hour and any fraction thereof. Processing the permit cannot begin until payment has been received.
  • Once payment is received, most applications for permits requests will be processed within 21 working days.
  • After favorable review of your application, your permit will be emailed to you or you may pick it up in person at the park

After your early open or stay late request is reviewed, you may be contacted to provide additional information or to discuss the details of your request if the request cannot be approved with the information provided.

Fees for Early Entry or Stay Late?

If your request for early entry/stay late is approved, the fee will be up to $75 per hour or any fraction thereof. For example, if you want to enter the park 30 minutes prior to opening, the fee will be up to $75. This fee is per hour or fraction thereof, not per person. The application fee must be paid over the phone with a secure credit card payment before the permit can be processed. Call 575-479-6124 ext. 206 to complete payment.

When to Submit Your Permit Request

Early entry or stay late permit requests may be submitted up to six months in advance and no less than 21 days in advance of your requested date.

What Happens on the Morning of an Early Entry?

A ranger will open the main highway gate at the requested time; however, the ranger will wait only 10 minutes. If you are late, the ranger will close the gate and go about his/her duties. You will not be able to enter the park and no money will be refunded. There will be only one opening per group. Please arrive on time.

What Happens on the Evening of a Stay Late?

You will provide a description of the vehicle(s) in your group (make, model, color, and license plate) on the Request for Early Entry or Stay Late application. The ranger closing the park on the date of your late stay will clear the park per normal procedures. At the designated exit time, you will meet the ranger at the locked gates at the entrance to the park. The ranger will open the gates for you to exit. The ranger will only wait 10 minutes. Citations could be issued if you fail to exit at the designated time. Please do not be late.

If You Have Additional Questions...

Please contact whsa_permits@nps.gov. Please write “early open or stay late request” in the subject line.

Last updated: July 7, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 1086
Holloman AFB, NM 88330


575 479-6124

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