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Discover New Mexico Camping in the Dunes of White Sands National Monument
White Sands National Monument is a wonderfully unique place located in New Mexico. The white sand dunes that make up the park are thousands of years old and are made up of a substance rarely found in sand, gypsum. Gypsum is water soluble meaning that rain usually dissolves it and carries it to the sea. However, since White Sands National Monument is located in the Tularosa Basin and is surrounded by mountains, there is nowhere for the rain water to take the gypsum. The rain water dissolves and leaves the gypsum behind, creating fields of white sand dunes. White Sands National Monument makes a wonderful New Mexico camping destination and has a lot to offer everyone.
For Woodall’s approved New Mexico camping sites, visit
New Mexico campgrounds
The Tularosa Basin has a high desert climate and is subject to harsh conditions that may change rapidly. Summers are hot with an average temperature of 95 degrees and many days get over 100. Winter days are mild but nights often drop below freezing. Snow isn’t common, but it does snow on occasion. The spring season tends to be very windy. Due to the elevation, climate and weather can change suddenly so one should always be prepared for anything. The park is open year round, although visitor center hours vary throughout the year.
There is a $3 entrance fee per person which is good for seven days. Children 15 and under are free. An annual pass for White Sands National Monument costs $20. An annual interagency pass that grants access to most national parks is $80. There are also fees for special activities, such as Lake Lucero tours which cost $3 for adults and $1.50 for children 15 and under. The Moonlight Bicycle Tours cost $5 per adult and $2.50 per child 15 and under.
Once you reach White Sands National Monument, there is plenty to do, from hikes and guided tours to a scenic road fit for bikes and cars, and plenty more. One terrific way to see what White Sands National Monument has to offer is on one of the many guided tours. A full moon guided hike is a wonderful way to see the park from a new perspective, by the light of a full moon. The Full Moon Hikes are free, but reservations are required. Guided Sunset Strolls are offered daily. This one hour tour takes you through the dunes at a beautiful time, sunset, and gives you an opportunity to learn more about the dunes. A guided tour through Lake Lucero will teach you about how the sands formed and about what plants and animals have adapted to the area. If you want to explore the park on your own, there are four wonderful hiking trails. Each trail has its own special things to offer and each one is different. The Alkali Flat Trail is a 4.6 mile hike through dunes which stretches out for miles. The Dune Life Nature Trail is located along the edge of the dunes and has a lot more vegetation and animal life. The Interdune Boardwalk is accessible for wheelchairs and strollers as it is an elevated boardwalk. Playa Trail is a short trail that leads to a small playa, or a low lying area that fills with water after rain. Another fun activity is dune sledding down the face of a dune. Moonless nights are also terrific for stargazing. Many photographers enjoy shooting the dunes, and the best times are in the morning and evening. An interesting fact about the dunes is that unlike other dunes that absorb the heat of the sun, the gypsum in the White Sands Dunes does not meaning it is safe to walk on even at the hottest point of the hottest day. With so many activities to choose from, White Sands National Monument really makes an excellent New Mexico camping destination.
To find Woodall’s approved New Mexico camping sites, visit
New Mexico campgrounds
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