White Sands National Monument Travel Tips
When using a GPS unit to find your way to White Sands, be sure to input “White Sands National Monument”. If you only enter “white sands” you may be routed to White Sands Missile Range, which is approximately 25 miles (40 km) west of the monument.
You can rent sand sleds at the visitor center or buy them. You can return them at the end of the day for a partial refund.
Visit this page to find current conditions in the park including road closures and construction.
White Sands Missile Range regularly conducts missile tests. For visitor safety, the only road into the dune field, Dunes Drive, may be closed for periods of up to three hours during missile tests. Visit this page for current closure dates.
The park does close and lock their gates overnight. Check this page for current opening and closing times for the park gates. There is parking at the visitor center if you arrive before the park opens.
On your way into the park, you may need to drive through a customs and border patrol check center. Be prepared to stop and talk with the agent for a few moments.
You can download a current version of the park newsletter here.
Drones are not allowed to be flown within the park.
You can download a great informational guide on the tracks you will see within White Sands National Monument here. This is great for when you are out in the park and wonder what tracks you are looking at.
Make sure you bring sunscreen, a hat and water. There are picnic shelters that offer some shade covering but you should expect to be out in the blazing sun. Temperatures in the summer can reach in the 90’s.
How much does it cost to visit White Sands National Monument?
Adults (ages 16 and older): $5
Children (ages 15 and younger): Free
White Sands National Monument Annual Pass – $30
America the Beautiful—National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass: $80
Annual pass covering entrance and standard amenity fees for national parks and other federal fee areas. This replaces the National Parks Pass and Golden Eagle Pass.
Annual 4th Grade Pass: Free
Annual pass covering entrance fees for 4th-grade students for 2016-2017 school year.
Annual Pass for US Military: Free
Annual pass covering entrance and standard amenity fees for all active military personnel and their dependents. (For active duty military personnel and dependents with proper identification (CAC Card or DD Form 1173).)
Access Pass: Free
Lifetime admission and discount pass for US citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities.
Senior Pass: $10
Lifetime admission and discount pass for US citizens or permanent residents who are age 62 or older.
Free Entrance Days in 2017 The National Park Service offers the following Entrance Fee Free Days this year:
- January 16: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
- February 20: Presidents’ Day
- April 15-16 and 22-23: Weekends of National Park Week
- August 25: National Park Service Birthday
- September 30: National Public Lands Day
- November 11-12: Veterans Day Weekend
Other fees such as reservation, camping, lodging, tours, concession and fees collected by third parties are not included unless stated otherwise.
How do I get to White Sands National Monument?
From Alamogordo, NM:
Drive time: About 15 minutes
Head west on Highway US-70 towards Las Cruces. The visitor center is located about 15 miles (24 km) west of Alamogordo on the north side (right-hand side) of the road.
From Las Cruces, NM:
Drive time: About 1 hour
Head east on Highway US-70 towards Alamogordo. The visitor center is located about 52 miles (84 km) east of Las Cruces on the north side (left-hand side) of the road, one mile (1.6 km) past the Border Patrol station.
From El Paso, TX:
There are two ways to arrive at White Sands from El Paso.
Through Las Cruces:
Drive time: 1.5 hours
1) Take I-10 West towards Las Cruces. After 39 miles (62.76 km), exit onto I-25 North. Follow I-25 North for about seven miles (11.27 km) and then exit onto US-70 East towards Alamogordo. The visitor center is located about 52 miles (84 km) east of Las Cruces on the north side (left-hand side) of the road, one mile (1.6 km) past the Border Patrol station.
Drive time: 1.5 hours
2) Take US-54 East towards Alamogordo. After 82 miles (131.97 km), turn left onto US-70 West towards Las Cruces. The visitor center is located about 15 miles (24 km) west of Alamogordo on the north side (right-hand side) of the road.
There is no public transportation within the park.
Where are the White Sands National Monument Visitor Centers?
The visitor center is at the front entrance to the park. You can rent sand sleds in the gift shop along with purchase water and snacks. There is a nice set of interpretive displays and a gift store.
The visitor center and gift shop are open 364 days a year, closing only on December 25.
Where can I find out about staying/camping in White Sands National Monument?
There are no lodges or hotels within the park. The closest cities are Alamogordo which is 13 miles, and Las Cruces which is 50 miles from the monument.
Backcountry campers are required to pay monument entrance fees as well as camping fees. The camping fee is $3.00 per person age 16 and older and $1.50 for anyone age 15 and under. There is a 50% discount on camping fees for holders of the Federal Access and Senior passes. This discount is only valid for the cardholder.
Visit this page to learn about backcountry camping in White Sands National Monument.
There are no RV or tent camping sites within the park.
Is there a Junior Ranger Program at White Sands National Monument?
Yes! There is a great junior ranger program available at White Sands National Monument. You can download copies of the junior ranger program before your trip here. They offer a preschool book for kids 5 and under and a Junior Dunes Ranger Activity Book for kids six and older.
Can I bring my Dog/Pet with me to White Sands National Monument?
Yes, Pets are allowed within the park as long as they are on a lead that is less than 6 feet long. Pets are not allowed in the visitor center. Pets should not be left in vehicles!
White Sands National Monument Facts
White Sands National Monument is the largest gypsum dune field in the world.
Additional Resources Information