Permits & Reservations

A bride and groom jumping into the air holding hands
White Sands provides a beautiful location for events such as weddings.

A. Bautista Photo

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:
  1. provides a benefit to an individual, group, or organization rather than the public at large;
  2. requires written authorization and some degree of management control from the National Park Service (NPS) in order to protect park resources and the public interest;
  3. is not prohibited by law or regulation;
  4. is not initiated, sponsored, or conducted by the NPS;
  5. and is not managed under a concession contract, a recreation activity for which the NPS charges a fee, or a lease,
  6. cannot be a commercial activity.

Examples include: weddings, other ceremonies or public assemblies, events sponsored by an organization for which the park acts as the venue, etc.

Examples of First-Amendment Activities include: a church service, political event, or Freedom of Speech act.



Visitors lining up to enter a bus out on the dunefield.

NPS Photo

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.

Man with camera on tripod filming dunes.

NPS Photo

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.
Park Ranger taking down American flag.

NPS Photo

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.
Person crouching with research instruments on ground.

NPS Photo

Research and Collection of Resources

White 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.
Tent in the sand dunes

NPS Photo

Backcountry Camping

Backcountry 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.
Sun setting over white sand dunes.

NPS Photo

Special Use Permits

Gatherings and event activities in national parks often require a special use permit. These types of activities include but are not limited to: weddings, scattering of ashes, events, and activities that extend beyond operating hours. The purpose of these permits is to ensure the protection of the park's natural rand cultural resources.


Three people eating at a picnic table

NPS Photo

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.

Hikers enjoying the full moon

NPS Photo

Lake Lucero and Moonlight Hike

Have 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
Permit Fees

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.

Payment must be made in cash, credit cards, personal checks, traveler cheques, cashier check, or money order for the exact amount. Make personal checks, travelers cheques, cashier check, or money orders payable to the National Park Service.

Credit card payments can be made by calling 575-479-6124 ext.206.

Special Use Permits Types

Administrative Application Cost

Commercial Filming

$100.00 additional fees may apply

Still Photography

$100.00 additional fees may apply


$100.00 additional fees may apply

Group Use Area Reservation


All Other- Special Use Permits

$100.00 additional fees may apply

Research and Collection of Resources


First Amendment Rights


Note: Other fees may apply. Cost Recovery may apply to a permit and be determined by the need to have a monitor, cleaning up site, etc.

Last updated: March 31, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 1086
Holloman AFB, NM 88330


575 479-6124

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