a person with a red backpack and holding a cell phone stands on the edge of a white dune field with mountains seen in the distance.
Being prepared and planning ahead are the keys to an incredible experience at White Sands National Park.

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Welcome to White Sands National Park, a place of wonder, inspiration, and beauty. With its glittering white backdrop against a vast glowing sky, White Sands offers unforgettable views and fun activities for all, but it is important to safely enjoy the park. Your tomorrow depends on the decisions that you make today. Each year, park rangers respond to dozens of search and rescue incidents in the park. These frequently involve heat exhaustion, dehydration, and injuries. To get the most out of your experience, please read and follow the safety guidelines below.

Emergency, Dial 911

a blue rain jacket, purple backpage, map with White Sands on it, compass, water bottle, water bladder, flashlight, sunscreen bottle, trail mix bag, sunglasses, hiking shoes, and a first aid kit lie on a white sand background.
Always come prepared to visit White Sands National Park.

NPS Photo

Safety Essentials

  • Tell someone your plans. Let them know where you're going, and when you plan to return.
  • Be aware of the weather. Sudden wind storms are frequent from February - May. Fast building thunderstorms are common in the basin July - September.
  • Be prepared for varying temperatures throughtout the day. Summer daytime temperatures can often reach over 100ºF (38ºC) in the summer and as cold as 10ºF (-12ºC) in the winter.
  • Bring plenty of food and water. One gallon (4 liters) of water per person per day is recommended. Water is only available at the visitor center. Have salty snacks available. Make sure to balance water intake with eating to stay properly hydrated.
  • Remain in one place if you become separated from your group.
  • Drive safely, obey traffic signs, and wear your seatbelt at all times.
  • Do not drink and drive.
  • Be extremely careful digging holes in the sand. Sand is unstable and can easily collapse causing injury or suffocation.
  • Do not touch unknown items out in the dunefield. Unexploded ordinance can sometimes be found in the park.
  • When in doubt, ask a ranger first

What Should I Bring?

  • Water: at least 1 gallon (4 liters) per person per day.
  • Salty Snacks. Balance drinking water and eating snacks to stay properly hydrated.
  • Map. Do not rely on your phone⁠— cell service is spotty in the park.
  • Fully Charged Cell Phone. In case of an emergency it is important to have a charged phone to try and make an emergency services call to 911.
  • Sun Protection. A hat, suncreen, and long sleeves are all recommended to protect yourself from sunburn in the dunes. Sun protection is still needed in the dunes during the winter season.
  • Adequate clothing (rain jacket and warm layers). Weather can be unpredictable and change quickly.
  • Closed toed shoes are suggested. Venomous creatures can be found throughout the dunefield.
  • First aid kit for outdoor excursions
  • Flashlight

Know Before You Go

  • People have died in White Sands National Park from heat related illnesses, hypothermia, dehydration, and getting lost. Please check the activity checklist below to help you have a safe visit to White Sands National Park.
  • Heat exhaustion is a very serious threat when recreating in White Sands National Park. Signs of heat exhaustion include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headaches, pale appearance, stomach cramps, and cool clammy skin. If you or a member of your party begins suffering from these symptoms:
    • Find a shaded area
    • Drink water slowly
    • Loosen tight clothing
    • Apply cool wet cloths or ice packs to the skin.
    • If heat exhaustion symptoms persist, seek medical help by calling 911
  • Please take signs of heat exhaustion seriously when in the park. If untreated, heat exhaustion often progresses into heat stroke. The body is unable to cool itself if this point is reached. It is imperative to lower their body temperature using any means necessary and obtain immediate medical assistance.
  • Winter months can be just as dangerous to people visiting White Sands National Park. Although winter highs are in the high 50's (10's Celsius), the temperature drastically falls into the low 20's (below zero Celsius) after the sun goes down. If people are not prepared for these cold temperatures, hypothermia can occur quickly.
  • White Sands is located at 4,235 feet (1,291 m) above sea level. For those traveling from lower altitudes, make sure you allow your body to acclimate to these altitudes. Take frequent breaks and drink water. Headache and loss of appetite are common sympotoms of altitude sickness. People not acclimated to the altitude must take even more precaution to aviod heat exhaustion.

Safety Checklist

Last updated: June 11, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 1086
Holloman AFB, NM 88330


575 479-6124

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