"White Sands: Worlds Largest Gypsum Dune Field" Top 5 Page for this destination White Sands National Monument by TooTallFinn24

White Sands National Monument Travel Guide: 116 reviews and 285 photos

Even from the top of the Sacramento Mountains nearly 80 miles away you can see the vast expanse of the White Sands National Monument. The striking white gypsum sand glows almost like a white light bulb even with an overcast sky.

The White Sands National Monument is in the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert . It comprises about 275 square miles of land and is located about 15 miles southwest of the city of Alamgordo, New Mexico. The gypsum sands of White Sands are formed by the Tularosa Basin. The basin was formed about ten million years ago by the collapse of a gypsum dome. Today the main remnants of that dome are the Sacramento and San Andreas Mountains which flank White Sands.

The park itself has only one main access road Dunes Drive. The drive is a loop road of about 16 miles that takes you past the four main trails of the park, the nature center, and the heart of the dunes.

The National Monument offers many interpretive programs. The sunrise and sunset walks are very popular. Unfortunately the combination of very clear weather and a constrained time schedule limited our ability to take advantage of these activities. Instead we walked on portions of all four main trails in the park to get a better idea of like in, on and around the great gypsum dunes.

Park Hours

The park's hours change with the season. Here are the posted hours for the spring and summer of 2012.

Spring hours: (February 28 - April 17, 2012)

Visitor Center 9:00 am - 6:00 pm. The Dunes Drive may be entered from 7:00 am. to sunset. No vehicles may enter the Dunes Drive after sunset. All visitors must exit the park by one hour after sunset.

Summer hours (April 18 - September 11, 2012)

Visitor Center 8:00 am - 7:00 pm. The Dunes Drive may be entered from 7:00 am to sunset. No vehicles may enter the Dunes Drive after sunset. All visitors must exit the park by one hour after sunset. From May 27 to September 5, the park may be entered until 9:00 pm, and visitors must exit by 10:00 pm.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Brilliant Gypsum Sand and Nice Short Hikes
  • Cons:Hot and Isolated in Southern New Mexico
  • Last visit to White Sands National Monument: Feb 2012
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (7)

Comments (4)

  • TooTallFinn24's Profile Photo
    Oct 21, 2012 at 10:56 PM

    Ty for your comments Val. I thought the cottonwood tree's struggle made an appropriate pic.

  • GentleSpirit's Profile Photo
    Oct 20, 2012 at 4:58 PM

    What hauntingly beautiful scenes! I can only imagine how striking it would be at sunrise/sunset. Great set of pages. thank you

  • tropicrd's Profile Photo
    Oct 6, 2012 at 4:54 PM

    I love your unique page and would love to have a picnic there too!

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Mar 22, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    Interesting tips on this unique area! That poor cottonwood tree in your lead photo doesn?t look like it has much of a chance of survival.


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