Certain types of activities require a special use permit. These include many types of organized gatherings, distribution of printed material, other public expressions of opinion, and other activities that are controlled or prohibited. See the following definitions and examples to determine if your activity might be included.
A special park use is defined as a short-term activity that takes place in a park area, and that:
Examples include: weddings, other ceremonies or public assemblies, events sponsored by an organization for which the park acts as the venue, etc.
Commercial Use Authorization
A Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) is a business permit with the National Park Service. It authorizes you or your organization to conduct commercial activities and to provide specific visitor services within a national park.
Filming and Still Photography
The bright white sand dunes of White Sands make a perfect backdrop for both filming and photography. Throughout the years, many feature films, car commercials, fashion photography, and more have used the gypsum dunes as their setting.
Early Entry - Stay Late
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.
First Amendment Activities
Freedom of speech, press, religion, and assembly are constitutional rights. However, the courts have recognized that activities associated with the exercise of these rights may be reasonably regulated to protect park resources. Therefore, some first amendment activities require special use permit. The National Park Service may regulate the time, place, and manner in which they are conducted.
Research and Collection of ResourcesWhite Sands National Park invites research focused on advancing understanding of critical park resources and management needs as well as “pure” science that will enhance the fundamental understanding of the natural world or human history.
Scattering of Ashes
A serene and beautiful place that has touched many hearts, White Sands National Park is truly the perfect resting place for your loved one. If you wish to have your loved one memorialized by scattering their ashes on the glistening white sand, we are here to assist you.
Congratulations! You've set a date and would like to take your wedding vows surrounded by the shimmering dunes of White Sands National Park. We know that you've got a lot to plan, so we've made the process of reserving your wedding location very simple.
Backcountry CampingBackcountry camping is currently closed due to rehabilitation of camping sites.
No date has been determined for its reopening. Spend a night under the twinkling stars of the vast New Mexico skies, surrounded by the world's largest gypsum dunefield. White Sands National Park offers backpackers the opportunity to enjoy a night camping on the white sands and listening to the nocturnal activities of the animals that make their home here in this unique ecosystem. Permits are issued at the park, the day of camping only.
All Other Permits - Special Use PermitsGatherings and event activities in national parks often require a special use permit. The purpose of these permits is to ensure the protection of the park's natural and cultural resources.
Group Use Area
From family reunions to weddings to boy scout jamborees, White Sands National Park has long been a popular location for large gatherings. Our group use area is the perfect location for private functions, and it is available for reservation. This is a popular area, please plan in advanced.
Lake Lucero and Full Moon HikeHave you ever wondered how the white sand dunes formed and why Lake Lucero is often referred to as the birthplace of the dunes or hike the dunes under the magical glow of the full moon? Tickets can be purchased for these popular park ranger led programs on www.recreation.gov.
Permit fees are non-refundable and are based on an annual cost recovery analysis approved by the Superintendent. These fees include the cost of permit processing, administration, and the basic monitoring of events.
Last updated: February 8, 2023