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Trip Planner: USA / New Mexico / Alamogordo / White Sands National Park
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.Put White Sands National Park at the forefront of your travel plans using our Alamogordo trip itinerary maker.
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.
White Sands National Park reviews
I was here about 10 years ago and it was mid-July. I am not exaggerating when I say it was about 120 degrees in the shade. And it was not like shade was easy to find. So the opportunity presented..... more
I was here about 10 years ago and it was mid-July. I am not exaggerating when I say it was about 120 degrees in the shade. And it was not like shade was easy to find. So the opportunity presented..... more »
There are not enough words to describe The natural Beauty of this amazing park. We did the Dune Hike and the boardwalk. It was so cool to see kids sledding in the sand. Truly a national treasure!
There are not enough words to describe The natural Beauty of this amazing park. We did the Dune Hike and the boardwalk. It was so cool to see kids sledding in the sand. Truly a national treasure! more »
Beautiful national park. Make sure you stop in the gift shop before you go into the park, and get yourself a sled with the wax. We took our own sleds but we couldn’t get them to go down the hills but it was because of the lack of wax. Great place for taking pictures. Lots of space so you’re not crowded by other visitors. Definitely make sure you don’t wear mesh shoes, I would highly suggest sandals. We ended up taking off our shoes and going barefoot, the sand is soft and warm not hot. Make sure you take sunscreen. We spent probably two hours here exploring the dunes.
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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