Rising from the heart of the Tularosa Basin is one of the world’s great natural wonders – the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert, creating the world’s largest gypsum dunefield. White Sands National Park preserves a major portion of this unique dunefield, along with the plants and animals that live here.
Approximately 12,000 years ago, the land within the Tularosa Basin featured large lakes, streams, grasslands, and Ice Age mammals. As the climate warmed, rain and snowmelt dissolved gypsum from the surrounding mountains and carried it into the basin.
White Sands National Park was originally designated a National Monument in 1933, then redesignated as a national park by Congress and signed into law December 20, 2019. It is the most visited park in New Mexico.
Places to Stay While Visiting White Sands
There are no lodging options inside the park. However, there are a few nearby towns that offer various hotels, resorts, and Airbnb/VRBO options.
- Alamogordo, NM (16 miles away)
- Boles Acres, NM (19 miles)
- Las Cruces, NM (52 miles)
- Timberon, NM (66 miles)
- El Paso, TX (95 miles)
VISIT White Sands National Park:
White Sands National Park was established on January 18, 1933, and has a total area of 145,762 acres (228 square miles, or 590 square kilometers).
|Address||19955 Hwy 70 W, Alamogordo, NM, 88310|
|Hours||All year except Christmas. Gates open at 7am every day, with closing depending on season (usually around dusk).|
|Entrance Fee||$25 per vehicle, valid for 7 days|
|Learn More||Official Website|
When to Visit: Weather vs. Peak Visitation
White Sands National Park is the 100th most visited park in the country.
We crunched 30 years of historical weather and/or park service data to find the best months to visit White Sands National Park. We looked for the optimal temperatures, the least amount of snow and rain, and stayed away from peak visitation months if we could help it. All this data then helped us paint a picture as to what the absolute best time to visit White Sands National Park is.
Our data shows the best months to visit White Sands National Park are May, June, July & August.
White Sands National Park Road Trips
Many family vacations consist of stringing one or more national parks together during a week-long trip. Creating these types of trips is our specialty! Here are the road trips we've created where White Sands National Park is visited.
|Trip Name||Trip Miles||Trip Days|
|Continental Divide National Historic Trail RV Road Trip||2,315||14|
Other Nearby National Park Sites
From national monuments, to historic sites to seashores and more, here are the other parks closest to White Sands National Park.
|Chamizal National Memorial||72 mi|
|Guadalupe Mountains National Park||97 mi|
|Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument||102 mi|
|Carlsbad Caverns National Park||109 mi|
|Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument||125 mi|
|Petroglyph National Monument||166 mi|
|El Malpais National Monument||181 mi|
|Chiricahua National Monument||193 mi|
|Pecos National Historical Park||193 mi|
|Fort Bowie National Historic Site||195 mi|
Nearby Campsites & RV Parks
If you are looking to pitch a tent or park an RV at a campsite near White Sands National Park, here is a list of the closest campsites in the surrounding area. They all have slightly different amenitites, so its best to check them all out instead of just chosing the first on the list.
|Holloman AFB Military||Alamogordo, NM more||7 miles|
|Oliver Lee State Park||Alamogordo, NM more||15 miles|
|Alamo Peak Road||Cloudcroft, NM more||22 miles|
|Lower Karr Canyon||Cloudcroft, NM more||22 miles|
|Upper Karr Canyon||Cloudcroft, NM more||24 miles|
|Deerhead||Cloudcroft, NM more||27 miles|
|Sleepy Grass||Cloudcroft, NM more||28 miles|
|Pines||Cloudcroft, NM more||28 miles|
|Upper Fir||Cloudcroft, NM more||29 miles|
|Apache||Cloudcroft, NM more||29 miles|
Nearest Ski Resorts
For those of you who are the diehard outdoors type, visiting a national park on a ski trip can be quite the adventure. Here are the ski resorts within 100 miles of White Sands National Park:
|Ski Apache||Alto, NM||12,000 ft||49%||48 mi|
When visiting a National park, many people are faced with either a very long drive across country, or a much shorter flight. For those of you looking to fly into White Sands National Park, we've listed the closest airports in the area.
A large airport has scheduled major airline service with millions of passengers per year. This type of airport always accepts international flights. Here are the closest large airports to White Sands National Park.
|Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport||PHX||Phoenix, AZ||340 mi|
|Lake Havasu City International Airport||LHS||Lake Havasu City, AZ||477 mi|
|Denver International Airport||DEN||Denver, CO||496 mi|
A medium-sized airport has scheduled regional airline service. This type of airport may or may not accept international flights. Here are the closest medium-sized airports to White Sands National Park.
|El Paso International Airport||ELP||El Paso, TX||68 mi|
|Roswell Air Center Airport||ROW||Roswell, NM||102 mi|
|Cavern City Air Terminal||CNM||Carlsbad, NM||115 mi|
|Albuquerque International Sunport||ABQ||Albuquerque, NM||158 mi|
|Midland International Airport||MAF||Midland, TX||239 mi|
|Sierra Vista Municipal Airport / Libby Army Air Field||FHU||Fort Huachuca / Sierra Vista, AZ||258 mi|
|Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport||LBB||Lubbock, TX||258 mi|
Credits: Campground data provided by USCampgrounds.info. Map shapes from CartographyVectors. Weather data from NOAA. Airport data from OurAirports.com. Images from Unsplash, Flickr and Parks&Trips. All data has also been updated and augmented by Parks&Trips.