White Sands National Park

A few years ago after a visit to Great Sand Dunes National Park, we were telling our friend, Ken, about it and he said that if we liked dunes, we should definitely check out White Sands National Monument.  This was before White Sands became a national park in 2019.  We filed that away in the back of our minds, knowing that it would be a while due to the remoteness of the location.  It was simply too far for us to visit on a regular vacation.  Fast forward to this year, and knowing we would be spending the winter in the southwest, it was a sure thing that White Sands had to be part of our journey. 

We started our day as we usually do in a national park…in the visitor center.  We find that it is always good to start there so you can get the lay of the land, learn a bit about the area you are in, and ask the volunteers and/or employees any questions you may have.  This visitor center contained a gift shop, bookstore, exhibit area, and a park film.  Sledding down the dunes is a big deal here, so if that is on your to-do list, the gift shop is the place to purchase your sled.  We decided to stick to hiking.

No, he isn’t napping, nor did he collapse from exhaustion; just trying to get the photo.

We headed down Dunes Drive and went all the way to the end first.  At the end is the Alkali Flat Trail which is 5 miles in length and the main thing we wanted to accomplish while in the park, so we got there right away before it got too busy and while it was still nice and cool out.  This trail is no joke!  It is up and down dunes almost the entire way, and of course it is mostly on loose sand. The temperatures were only in the low 70s while we were there, but with the sun, the reflection on the sand, and the exertion from the hike, it felt much hotter.  We don’t even want to think about what it would be like in the summer.  The trail was gorgeous and a great way to get out into the heart of the dunes, but we were both worn out by the time we finished.

And here is the photo he got. Not bad! Maybe it was worth all the sand he got everywhere!

Around the end of the road, where it turns into a loop near the Alkali Flat Trailhead, there are TONS of areas to park so you can get out to enjoy and play on the dunes.  The park service has really made it easy for people to access the dunes right from the road, so don’t feel like you have to hike 5 miles to see them.

The birds enjoy the dunes, too.

On our way back out of the park, we hit a few of the shorter trails along the way.  The Interdune Boardwalk is a short out-and-back with some interpretive signs to tell you about the flora and fauna of the area.  On the Dune Life Nature Trail, we somehow got turned around and we think we only saw about half the signs explaining the wildlife of the area, but we were both exhausted, so we weren’t really complaining.  The Playa Trail discussed the way the Playa (lake bed) changes with the seasons.  While we were there (in February), there was no water and the surface seemed to be a dry, white crust.

The dunes are steeper than they look!

The dunes at White Sands are certainly not the largest you will ever see, but as the WORLD’S LARGEST gypsum dunefield, it is a worthy destination to visit if you ever have the opportunity.  We are so glad we did!

Follow along on our Alkali Flat hike in the video below!

Until next time!

8 thoughts on “White Sands National Park”

  1. Joyce Stephenson

    Looks really awesome. Wish I could go there and experience this like you did. Unfortunately I missed my window of time in my life to see this as you did.

  2. Lisa Dale Thomas

    Gorgeous! The color of the sky contrasting with the sand is amazing! Thanks for taking us along on your adventure.

  3. Jeff getting down on the ground to capture those ripples in the foreground was definitely worth it. Pretty sure though that even though you are now in Arizona, some of that white sand has traveled with him!

  4. I read the blog post long before you post the video. Great idea that you are adding the videos to the blog when they are finished, even if it’s weeks later!

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