My family visited the White Sands National Park in March to see this natural wonder for ourselves & to sled down the amazing white sand dunes! We drove to the last part of the loop before turning around to set up for photos, play in the sand, and to sled the dunes with our kids. Let me tell you…it’s SO. MUCH. FUN. Let me answer all the questions that have filled up my DM box & I thought would be helpful for the next time you plan a family-friendly adventure to White Sands National Park.
Travel Guide to White Sands National Park in New Mexico
What is White Sands Park?
Rising from the heart of the Tularosa Basin is one of the world’s great natural wonders – the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Amazing wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert, creating the world’s largest gypsum dune field. White Sands National Park preserves a major portion of this unique dune field, along with the plants and animals that live here.
Can you sled in & where do you get sleds for White Sands?
Yes, you can sled in the White Sands park & sleds are available for purchase at the gift shop BEFORE entering the park.
How much does a sled cost at White Sands?
A new sled is $18.99, wax is $1.99 + tax (just get the wax) you can sell the sled & wax back for $5. If you plan ahead of time you can grab one for MUCH cheaper at the local Wal-Mart.
When is White Sands National Park open?
Although usually open, White Sands can be closed due to weather (the first time we had planned to go, there were storms so the park was closed) or they could be closed for missile testing. Make sure you check the day you plan to go on the NPS White Sands closure page.
Where is White Sands National Monument?
White Sands National Monument is in the northern Chihuahuan Desert in the U.S. state of New Mexico.
What to do at White Sands National Park in New Mexico?
Sledding is one of the most popular activities amongst families, groups & the lone traveler to do at the White Sands but there are also lots of other activities to be had in this amazing landscape. There is backcountry camping, hiking trails, bicycling, picnicking, the native plant garden tour & don’t forget to grab junior ranger activity book at the visitor center.
How much does it cost to get into White Sands National Monument?
The costs vary, for each vehicle into White Sands National Park Entrance is $25.00 (pass is good for entry for 7 consecutive days), if you are alone in the vehicle it is $15.
Is White Sands part of America the Beautiful national park pass?
Yes, it is! The America the Beautiful annual pass is $80 ($20 for seniors annually & free to military).
Are pets allowed into White Sands park?
Yes, pets are allowed into White Sands National Park as long as they are on a leash, picked up after & are not allowed in the visitor center.
Is the sand in White Sands park hot?
Nope! Although we were sweating by the end of our time playing, we were all barefoot the whole time & the sand was very cool to touch.
3 Things to do before going to White Sands Park
- Call or check online to make sure the park is open before making your way out.
- Bring plenty of water (the water spouts were painfully slow when filling our water packs and no water is available in the dunes) & snacks
- Bring hats, sunglasses (the sand feels blinding on a sunny day) & sunblock
What to bring to White Sands National Park
Camelbak – I don’t care how small my hike is, I find it easiest to just strap on my Camelbak (since I keep it stocked on hiking trips) filled with water. It also gives me a place to store anything I might want to store for the hikes (don’t forget to put a map in it). I opted for the 100 oz Camelbak while both of my kids have the Camelbak scout hydration pack (for more ideas for kid’s hiking gear check out this post). I fill my hydration pack every chance I get!
Snacks – I always have snacks in my backpack since I’m always with my family, so I like to be prepared. Even if I was on my own, I would still pack nuts, fresh fruit & a few protein bars.
Sunglasses – These are a must for desserts or near waters, the sun bounces & is extremely harsh on your eyes.
Sunscreen – ALWAYS use sunscreen, even an overcast day can leave your skin vulnerable to the sun. Two sunscreens I like that don’t break me out or feel heavy are this Alba sunscreen & this one from Sunbum, I also keep this stick sunscreen in my bag.
Hat – You’ll want some kind of hat to keep the sun out of your eyes, I usually opt for my Patagonia baseball cap that’s worn well. If you want to keep the sun off your neck, a bucket hat is great for hiking too.
Hiking poles – Hiking poles are great for steep hikes, hikes that tend to have snow/water & for those with bad knees.