White Sands Travel Guide

  • White Sands
    by jrgentle
  • Really are white
    Really are white
    by BruceDunning
  • White Sands
    by klj&a

White Sands Highlights

  • Pro
    Lionman profile photo

    Lionman says…

     Unearthly beauty, remoteness, silence, glorious sky, full moon midnight night moonlight lectures. 

  • Con
    Lionman profile photo

    Lionman says…

     Anytime after 10am in June the heat is unbearable so wear very few clothes, heavy sunscreen and a good sun hat! 

  • In a nutshell
    Lionman profile photo

    Lionman says…

     Another world here on earth. 

White Sands Things to Do

  • Sit in the Sand

    White Sands is very cool and eerie. You drive on roads that are surrounded on all sides by the dunes, and begin to feel that you are on the moon. The sand feels like sugar running between your fingers.

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  • 8-mile scenic drive

    It's called scenic drive. But frankly, it's all white. Very bright, very glaring.The fun part is not the drive. It's walking on the sand...

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  • White Sand Missile Range

    Ok, so much for sands. Let's get serious. While we were driving through the desert, since Ann was the driver, I became the designated navigator. On the maps, I came across 'White Sand Missile Range'. So, what do you think it is? Here's what I found on the guide book we bought in the bookstore. Excerpt quoted from the guide: 'At 5:29 on the morning...

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  • Observe life

    Observe life. In this constant moving sand dunes, the Soaptree Yucca is the largest plant that managed to adapt to the harsh environment & grow here.Officially called Yucca Elata it is also the New Mexico state flower. It's named according to the roots' function. Known as Amole, they were used by Indians & early settlers for soap.

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  • Sumac on pedestal

    Sumac on pedestal.Ok, I'm no experts on plants & shrubs.So, for your reading pleasure, this is the excerpt from the guidebook: 'A few plants form large pedestals of sand. One dramatic example of a pedestral-builder at White Sands is skunkbush sumac, also called squawbush. These shrubs bind gypsum grains into a compact mass around their tangled...

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  • Well, unless you have the...

    Well, unless you have the proper military clearance, you can't really SEE anything here, except for signs telling you to keep out or you could get blown up... basically... but... there are also signs for entrances.. maybe there's a visitor's center or something, but White Sands is mainly full of empty, flat space.

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  • smoox's Things to Do Tip

    In August, temperatures may well reach up to 40 °C during the day. Still, the sand is wonderfully cool. Walk with your bare feet, it is a great feeling.

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  • Wander off into the dune...

    Wander off into the dune fields - but make sure you know the direction back to your car! It is easy to lose one´s way in here.

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  • smoox's Things to Do Tip

    Summer brings thunderstorms to the area, and the water will remain for a few hours, forming a little lake.

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  • smoox's Things to Do Tip

    Actually, the Yucca - and other plants as well - grow with the height of the dunes. Their roots reach far down to find water. At the same time, the roots catch the sand and hold it. Even when the dunes move, the Yucca will still stand, and if sand covers it, it will grow towards the light.

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  • smoox's Things to Do Tip

    The plants struggle hard to survive. The area is very dry, with only about 200 mm precipitation p.a..

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  • Take the Heart of Sands Loop...

    Take the Heart of Sands Loop Drive (26 km) which will take you right into the dunes.I was told they use snow ploughs to clear the track.

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White Sands Restaurants

  • Sharrie's Profile Photo

    by Sharrie Updated Jan 22, 2003

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    This is cool! I thought it kinda an outer space restaurant look-alike :) Perhaps 2000 years from now this will be what the 'real' restaurants will be like? Ever watched the movie 'Artificial Intelligence: A.I.' by Spielberg? Yeah, 2000 years later we'll have lunch here ;-)

    Favorite Dish: Sand for picnic, anyone?

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White Sands Transportation

  • We rented a car from El Paso

    We rented a car from El Paso. Ann was quoted about US$20+ per day but with the insurance & add-ons, we ended up paying around US$45 per day.White Sands N.M. is about 15 miles SW of Alamogordo (NM) on U.S. 70.

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  • The visitors centre at the...

    The visitors centre at the White Sands NationalMonument is on U.S. Highway 70/82, 24 kilometres southwest of Alamogordo, N.M., and 85 kilometres east of Las Cruces, N.M. No public transportation serves the park. Cars maybe rented in Alamogordo or Las Cruces. Personal vehicles and bicycles are welcome in the park.

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White Sands Local Customs

  • White Sands National Monument Center

    Try to make the White Sands National Monument Center your 1st stop to the area. Here, you'll find a museum, bookstore, gift shop, information desk & restrooms. Also, note that NO water is available anywhere along the 8-mile scenic drive from here to the heart of the dunes. NO alcohol is permitted either (Feb. 1 - May 31). Picnic areas are...

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  • Be prepared for ID check!

    When we first arrived at White Sands, we were not allowed to actually go in the area. They were doing missile testing at the nearby military site. We decided to go have breakfast and come back. They request ID from those who are passing through the area. It is a matter of national security, or so I was told when I was finally allowed in.

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White Sands Warnings and Dangers

  • Sharrie's Profile Photo

    by Sharrie Updated Jan 22, 2003

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    As posted by National Park Service:
    Natural conditions in the white sands can be hazardous. Do not tunnel into the sand dunes. Tunnels collapse easily & can cause rapid suffocation. Injuries can occur when sand surfing, so be careful. Never sand surf near the roadway.
    It is easy to become lost when hiking, especially during sandstorms. Don't hike alone. Do not stop on the road. Pull off the road into an established parking area before stopping.

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White Sands What to Pack

  • Sharrie's Profile Photo

    by Sharrie Updated Jan 22, 2003

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    Miscellaneous: I like this photo of Ann :) Seems like she was trying to figure out where NSEW was & wondering if we'd ever get out of this place! Cool!

    Bring along your compass & maps!

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White Sands Off The Beaten Path

  • Sharrie's Profile Photo

    by Sharrie Written Feb 25, 2003

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    Look out for the Yucca. Desert plants rarely survive among the shifting dunes. The Soaptree Yucca has adapted itself to this harsh environment by elongating its stem & thereby keep its leaves above the sand.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel

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White Sands Favorites

  • UFO?

    Some said UFOs can be spotted around this region, well, only if you are one of those "lucky" few :-)

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  • browse the exhibits in the...

    browse the exhibits in the visitor center first. You´ll learn all about the area and desert vegetation. Also, you might want to join a Ranger Talk - their stories and explanations are most interesting.+++ The building itself is constructed in the traditional adobe style.

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  • Do the Annual Bataan Memorial...

    Do the Annual Bataan Memorial Death March - The 26.2 mile memorial march route starts on the White Sands main post, crosses hilly desert terrain, circles a small mountain and returns to the main post through sandy desert trails and washes. The elevation ranges from about 4,100 to 5,300 feet. Finishing the Death March!!!!!

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