We stayed for one night after playing at White Sands for the afternoon. We were looking for an inexpensive, pet friendly motel.
The motel was boasting about hot tubs in many of the rooms, but the front desk informed us that anyone checking in with pets or children, don't get to stay in those rooms.
The lobby was nice, and the front desk service was very nice and friendly. The first room we stayed in smelled horrible, and they promptly found a new room for us. The first room was non-smoking, but the room below it was a smoking room, so it made the upstairs stink as well.
The bathrooms were small and outdated, but the room came with a small fridge and microwave.
Standard free breakfast items, juice, pastries, cereal, oatmeal, and waffle makers.
Pet Friendly- means dog friendly. There was a very large sign at the front desk stating that cats were not allowed;
The gave cute little doggie welcome bags with dog treats and doogie doo bags.
Though there is no formal campground in White Sands National Monument, we found out by talking to a park ranger that there was backcountry camping. We hadn't planned on doing any backpacking until the Grand Canyon but were happy to hear we could start sooner. The best part was that we would be able to be in the park when the light was best for taking photos, early in the morning before the gates opened. Permits are $3 per person and must be obtained in person the day of trip departure as the military does missile testing in the Monument. They obviously aren't going to let you go out there then and they don't know when it's going to happen until the morning of. The spots are about a quarter mile from each other with the furthermost spot being about a mile from the trail head.
Though the distances are short, you are walking in sand and up and down huge dunes, carrying all your gear so you better be in decent shape. There is NO water out there so you have to carry everything in and more importantly EVERYTHING out. It's more appropriate for a one night outing as during the day your tent will be set up in the blaring sun. The early morning and evening hours are magical and it's well worth the effort.
Since White Sands Monument doesn't have a campground and the commercial venues nearby are pretty abysmal, Oliver Lee provides a great place to camp in close proximity to the park. It is also a great park in its own right and if you have time I'm sure it's well worth investigating. But even as a place to just set up the tent, it makes for an atmospheric place to lie you head for a night or two.
The sunsets on the mountains right at your doorstep are magical. It's a dry climate and once the sun goes down it gets nice and cool for sleeping. The sites are spread out pretty well for the price ($10) and if you are lucky enough to get a spot with a shelter you'll not have to worry about the sun too much if there earlier in the day. There are nice bathrooms and unbeknownst to us, showers! We didn't realize it until we were pulling out since we mostly arrived in the dark aside from our first night as we spent most sunsets at White Sands. This place got us on the right track camping and even after camping about 170 times in about 190 days I still remember it fondly.
Open year round this 200 acre state park’s campground has a 24 hour attendant, dump station, flush toilets, showers, and visitor center. The campground has 48 developed sites with a 38-foot maximum length restriction. 18 of these have electricity. Nature trails may also be enjoyed here. As I walked around in the desert below our camper I saw a variety of desert vegetation including cholla, prickly pear cactus, hedgehots cactus, along with soaptree and torey yucca. Some of the torey yucca were in bloom at the end of March and very beautiful to see. While exploring I spotted a large rock with wonderful fossilized seashells in it. A gambles quail was sitting on top of a soaptree yucca raising his head to the sky and calling. Oliver Lee is within an easy drive from White Sands being located outside of the near-by town of Alamogordo. Basic fee in 2003 for a developed site was $10.00. Electrical hook-up sites are about $4.00 more.
The nearest lodging can be found 15 miles northwest in the city of Alamagordo. There are many 1,2 & 3 star motels to chose from. We stayed at the Best Western Desert Aire Motor Hotel. Three star, $47 per night (2 beds), continental breakfast, pool. Room was ok.
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