Drop whatever you are doing and add White Sands National Monument to your bucket list! I am not even sure how to describe White Sands National Monument. It is a “you have to see it to believe it” kind of place.
There are a few things to know about White Sands National Monument before you go.
1. There is only Backcountry Camping inside the park. This means if you want to camp on the sand dunes, you have to hike to at least one mile away from parking spaces to get a spot. There are no amenities (like toilets), since these are primitive sights. The good thing about this is you will see some absolutely gorgeous night skies! Reservations are necessary – you can reserve those here. There are plenty of other modern campgrounds around the White Sands area.
2. White Sands National Monument is known for its sand-sledding. You can bring a sled, hike up the dunes, and slide back down. If you do not have your own sled you can buy a used one at the visitor’s center for $10. The visitor’s center will buy it back from you for $3 when you are finished. The thing is, I do not know if you can really call this sledding. It was worth the experience of checking it off our list but we did not really slide down the dunes. The sand is not very slippery so we mostly scooted and inched our sled down the hill.
3. There are plenty of shaded picnic areas throughout the park. There are larger, family-size spaces and smaller, more intimate spaces.
4. White Sands National Monument is situated on a loop drive made of packed sand. We saw all sorts of vehicles making the drive. It is pretty well maintained.
5. Though it is not a very big park, you can spend a lot of time here. There were tons of photographers throughout the park. It’s a great spot to get some shooting in! There are also hiking opportunities. We did not do a hike since we were only there for the morning.
6. Will everything be covered in sand when you leave? Yes and no. The sand is so fine that it does not stick to everything. It is easy to shake out of clothes, shoes, and backpacks. However, when the wind is blowing the sand really gets everywhere! We got back to our vehicle just as the wind became fierce and we had a fine layer of sand on our dashboard as we drove off.
Gear of the trip:
Tripod. As I already said, this is an incredible photography destination. The light playing off the dunes at day and the bright night skies make for endless opportunities. Having a tripod allows for so much freedom in your shots. We own this Tripod. It connects to our phones with Bluetooth, has adjustable height settings, and is super light and durable for tossing in a backpack.