White Sands is stunning. The bright white gypsum sands are constantly changing. The winds shift the dunes in all directions and the sunlight makes the view morph throughout the day. We arrived in the rain the first day but were lucky to have time to return the next morning. The morning light made it feel like we had arrived at a completely new destination.
On the first day, we dodged rain drops to complete the Dune Life Nature Trail and the Interdune Boardwalk trail. The boardwalk trail is stroller and wheelchair friendly. Both of these trails are very short, kid friendly and have informative signs throughout.
The rain became more intense as the day moved on. So we completed the Dunes Drive and hiked up to see some views. However, we decided to wait for the next day for sledding.
When we arrived the next day to sunshine, the view was completely different.
Sledding is the most popular event at White Sands and we had to try it out.
The kids absolutely loved it. Even the adults gave it a try.
It was cooler in the morning and you could almost be tricked into believing we were sledding in the snow.
The kids could have stayed here all day.
After a fun morning in the sand, we headed out for Albuquerque.
For Your Trip
The White Sands visitor center is located about 20 minutes from Alamogordo. White Sands Missile Range also happens to be in this area. So the road out to the visitor center is sometimes closed due to missile testing. Check the parks website for closure updates while you are planning your visit.
You are going to want to sled in the park. Guaranteed. There are several options when it comes to sleds. You can bring your own from home, buy some at the visitor center or buy them in Alamogordo. The sleds are just basic circular snow sleds. They are twice the price at the visitor center as they are in town. During our visit, Walmart was sold out but Big 5 Sporting Goods store had them available right by the front door. If you have time I would recommend buying them in town.
The visitor center gift shop used to buy back the sleds and give some money back. However, when we were there they had stopped the buy back program and would give you a sticker or some other small item for bringing back the sled. Since the program changed, some people were bringing back sleds and trading them with other people in the parking lot. Also when we arrived early the next morning before the visitor center opened, there was a sled someone just left outside the gift shop. So if you get lucky, that might be an option.
A lot of people were asking about the Trinity Site (where the first atomic bomb was tested) at the visitor center. White Sands Missile Range manages this site and not the National Park. The Trinity site is only open to visitors twice a year on the first Saturday in April and in October. You must contact the Missile Range Public Affairs department or the Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce to arrange a visit.
Don’t forget to stop by the World’s Largest Pistachio on your way out of town! Happy Travels!