White Sands National Park, Alamogordo

4.7
#10 of 17 in Things to do in Alamogordo
National Park · Hidden Gem · Nature / Park
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White Sands National Park is an American national park located in the state of New Mexico and completely surrounded by the White Sands Missile Range. The park covers 145,762 acres (227.8 sq mi; 589.9 km2) in the Tularosa Basin, including the southern 41% of a 275 sq mi (710 km2) field of white sand dunes composed of gypsum crystals. This gypsum dunefield is the largest of its kind on Earth, with a depth of about 30 feet (9.1 m), dunes as tall as 60 feet (18 m), and about 4.5 billion short tons (4.1 billion metric tons) of gypsum sand.

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. Further warming and drying caused the lakes to evaporate and form selenite crystals. Strong winds then broke up crystals and transported them eastward. A similar process continues to produce gypsum sand today.
Thousands of species of animal inhabit the park, a large portion of which are invertebrates. Several animal species feature a white or off-white coloration. At least 45 species are endemic, living only in this park, with 40 of them being moth species. The Tularosa Basin has also seen a number of human inhabitants, from Paleo-Indians 12,000 years ago to modern farmers, ranchers, and miners.

White Sands National Park was originally designated White Sands National Monument on January 18, 1933 by President Herbert Hoover; it was redesignated as a national park by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump on December 20, 2019. It is the most visited NPS site in New Mexico, with about 600,000 visitors each year. The park features a drive from the visitor center to the heart of the dunes, picnic areas, backcountry campground in the dunefield, marked hiking trails, and sledding on the dunes. Ranger-guided orientation and nature walks occur at various times and months throughout the year.
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White Sands National Park reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 5.0
46 reviews
Google
4.7
TripAdvisor
  • I would recommend sunglasses for each member of the family. The sand is amazingly beautiful. I would recommend bringing charcoal and burgers. They have grills set up ready to rock. Make sure you.....  more
    I would recommend sunglasses for each member of the family. The sand is amazingly beautiful. I would recommend bringing charcoal and burgers. They have grills set up ready to rock. Make sure you.....  more »
  • We drove around and this part is really nice. To see all those hislls full of white sand was really remarkable. We enjoyed this alot. 
    We drove around and this part is really nice. To see all those hislls full of white sand was really remarkable. We enjoyed this alot.  more »
Google
  • What an incredible experience - there's nothing else like it. The park is easy to navigate and offers lots of different trails, so you should be able to find something to accommodate everyone in your party. The sands are truly beautiful as you walk through and explore them, and no they are not 'just like the beaches.' The surrounding beauty and coolness of the sands (we hiked it barefoot) were truly incredible. The park also has pit toilets (which is 100% expected for remote parks like this one), which were well-maintained. Just make sure you bring water and snacks! They also have plenty of shaded picnic tables available for use. Worth the drive.
  • We had a great time. Some of the signs have started to fade, but others are very clear and informative. The veteran in the visitors office was very helpful. The day we visited (17JUL22) the sunset walking tour was cancelled, but we were able to create our own personal walking tour. Although it was hot, the sand was beautiful and cool. We didn't see any wildlife today, but have seen albino lizards and rabbits in the past. It's a wonderful place to visit with children and families.

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