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White Sands National Monument

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At the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert lies a mountain ringed valley called the Tularosa Basin. Rising from the heart of this basin is one of the world's great natural wonders - the glistening white sands of New Mexico.

Here, great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert and have created the world's largest gypsum dune field. The brilliant white dunes are ever changing: growing, cresting, then slumping, but always advancing. Slowly but relentlessly the sand, driven by strong southwest winds, covers everything in its path. Within the extremely harsh environment of the dune field, even plants and animals adapted to desert conditions struggle to survive. Only a few species of plants grow rapidly enough to survive burial by moving dunes, but several types of small animals have evolved a white coloration that camouflages them in the gypsum sand.

White Sands National Monument preserves a major portion of this gypsum dune field, along with the plants and animals that have successfully adapted to this constantly changing environment.

   

CONTACTS

Email - WHSA_Interpretation@nps.gov

Fax- 505-479-4333

Write to
P.O. Box 1086
Holloman AFB, NM 88330

Phone
Visitor Information - (505) 679-2599
Visitor Information - (505) 479-6124

TRAVEL BASICS

Operating Hours, Seasons
The monument is open daily, except Christmas Day. Summer hours (Memorial Day through Labor Day): Visitor Center 8:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m., Dunes Drive 7:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. Winter hours: Visitor Center 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Dunes Drive 7:00 a.m. - sunset.

Special Note: Due to missile testing on the adjacent White Sands Missile Range, it is occasionally necessary, for visitor safety,to close the Dunes Drive for periods of up to two hours. U.S. Highway 70/82 between Alamogordo and Las Cruces is also closed during times of missile testing. Visitors on a tight schedule are encouraged to call the day prior to arrival for information on closures.

Getting There
PLANE - El Paso International Airport

CAR - The visitor center is located on U.S. Highway 70/82, 15 miles (24.15km) southwest of Alamogordo and 52 miles east of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Travelers from Carlsbad Caverns to southern Arizona can follow U.S. 82 through the scenic Sacramento Mountains to White Sands National Monument.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION - To Park: No public transportation serves the park. Cars may be rented in Alamogordo, Las Cruces, and El Paso.

Weather & Climate
The Tularosa Basin, a high desert area, averaging 4,000 feet (1200+ meters) in elevation, is subject to harsh, and sometimes rapidly changing climatic conditions. Summers are hot, averaging 95?F. (35?C.) highs in July and August, with occasional readings over 100?F. (38?C.). Winters are relatively mild, but night time temperatures often go below freezing (0?C.) and cold spells can send the mercury below zero (0?F., -17?C.). The lowest recorded temperature is -25?F. (-32?C.). Snowfall is infrequent, but heavy snows have occurred on occasion. Precipitation averages about 8 inches (20cm.) per year, with most falling during summer thunderstorms, often accompanied by lightning and hail.

Wind is the dominant climatic factor here, especially from February through May. The prevailing southwesterly winds blow unimpeded across the desert and at times reach gale force. Wind storms can last for days in the spring. This is the time of the greatest dune movement, when living conditions for dune animal and plant communities become extremely harsh.

Accessibility
All facilities in the visitor center and picnic areas are wheelchair accessible. The sand dunes themselves are accessible to wheelchairs to a limited degree. The Interdune Boardwalk is a 1/3 mile (round-trip)wheelchair-accessible trail through an interdune area and to the top of a dune.

Getting Around
An eight-mile scenic drive leads from the Visitor Center into the heart of the dunes. Wayside exhibits at pullouts along the drive provide information about the natural history of the park.

FEES/PERMITS

Entrance Fee
Entrance fees are collected at the entrance station on the Dunes Drive.


MOONLIGHT BICYCLE TOURS
Advance registration is required. Call (505)679-2599 ext.111

CAMPING

Backpackers Campsites
Open All Year
There is no car camping at White Sands National Monument. However, the park does have primitive backcountry campsites for backpackers wishing to enjoy a night on the white sands. The backcountry campsites, located about one mile from the scenic drive, are reached from a trailhead on the drive 6 miles from the visitor center. The campsites are primitive with no water or toilet facilities. No ground fires are permitted at the campsite or anywhere else in the park. Backpackers must register for campsites in person (no advance registration) at the Visitor Center by one hour before sunset. The backcountry campsites are occasionally closed due to missile testing on the adjacent White Sands Missile Range.

FACILITIES

Visitor Centers
WHITE SANDS VISITOR CENTER
Open All Year
Closures - Closed Christmas Day.
Special Programs - Check 'InDepth' section of this web page.
Available Facilities - Refreshments and snacks can be purchased at the visitor center giftshop from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Summer 8:00 a.m. to 7 p.m.) Books, maps, posters, videotapes and audio tapes are sold in the visitor center by: Southwest Parks and Monuments Association, P.O. Box 1086, Holloman AFB, NM 88330-1086

  Map
map
Detailed Map


Contact Info
contact info
Phone, Email, Address, GPS coordinates


Campgrounds Nearby
campgrounds
List of Nearby Campgrounds


Weather
weather
Local weather forecast


OUTDOORS
These outdoors activities are available near White Sands National Monument.
 Campgrounds Near White Sands National Monument:
White Sands Community, Alamogordo, 4 miles away
Rocket RV Park, Alamogordo, 4 miles away
Desert Paradise RV Park, Alamogordo, 4 miles away
Mountain Meadow RV Park, Alamogordo, 4 miles away
Lower Fir Group Area - Lincoln National Forest, Alamogordo, 5 miles away
Upper Fir Group Area - Lincoln National Forest, Alamogordo, 5 miles away
Oliver Lee Campground, Otero County, 5 miles away
 Hotels Near White Sands National Monument:
Holiday Inn Express & Suites ALAMOGORDO, Alamogordo , 4 miles away
Fairfield Inn & Suites Alamogordo, Alamogordo , 4 miles away
Hampton Inn Alamogordo, Alamogordo , 4 miles away
Quality Inn & Suites Alamogordo, Alamogordo , 4 miles away
Days Inn Alamogordo, Alamogordo , 4 miles away
Magnuson Hotel And Suites Alam, Alamogordo , 5 miles away
Suburban Extended Stay Hotel Alamogordo, Alamogordo , 6 miles away
 Trails Near White Sands National Monument:
Osha Trail, Otero County , 16 miles away
 Ski Areas Near White Sands National Monument:
Ski Apache, New Mexico , 35 miles away, 1900 foot drop, 11 lifts, 55 runs
 Public Lands Near White Sands National Monument:
Oliver Lee Memorial State Park, New Mexico , 3 miles away
Lincoln National Forest, New Mexico , 20 miles away
 Golf Courses Near White Sands National Monument:
Desert Lakes Golf Course, Alamogordo , 5 miles away
Apache Mesa Golf Course, Holloman Air Force Base , 10 miles away
Lodge Golf Course, Cloudcroft , 15 miles away
Timberon Golf Course, Timberon , 17 miles away

Copyright © Stratus-Pikpuk, Inc. - Pictures of park and text about park by the US National Park Service. Operating hours and fees are valid at the date of publishing and are subject to change, please contact park directly for current information.