A Visit to White Sands National Monument

Jamie FeinbergMay 7, 2018

A Visit to White Sands National Monument

It’s not every day that you can go sledding and see “snow” in the desert. But if you head to New Mexico’s White Sands National Monument in Alamogordo, that’s exactly what you’ll find! Here’s a guide for first time visitors to the area, with suggestions on where to stay and what else to visit while you’re in town.

White Sands National Monument, Alamogordo, New Mexico | Outdoorsy RV Rental Marketplace
An eye-catching view at White Sands National Monument, courtesy of RossAndJamieAdventure.com

This national monument is gorgeous, with many scenic stops, places to walk or hike and a gorgeous drive. So whether you’re staying in the RV, want to stretch your legs, or want to prep for a serious hike in the desert (or just want to go sledding!) there’s something for everyone here.

Important info for visiting White Sands National Monument

If you have an America the Beautiful pass, it will be free to visit. But day visitors are only $5 per person (15 & under are free), cash or check – and your admission will be good for seven days. So if you’re in the area, why not return once or twice? That being said, if you’re in a rush, you can have a satisfying experience here with just a couple of hours of your time, if desired.

You’ve probably seen some of the epic photos of White Sands National Monument. It’s a popular RVing and general roadtrip destination, but you may not be aware of how it came to be. The glistening white, snow-like desert is covered in gypsum sand for 275 miles. It’s the world’s largest gypsum dunefield! The majority of the dunefield is part of the monument, preserved for future generations and the plants and animals that live there.

White Sands is a wonderful learning opportunity for aspiring scientists and curious people of all ages, and their visitor’s center and signs throughout the monument will help you learn more about the science behind the white sands as well as the history of the national monument itself.

White Sands National Monument, Alamogordo, New Mexico | Outdoorsy RV Rental Marketplace
A view of the Interdune Boardwalk at White Sands National Monument, courtesy of RossAndJamieAdventure.com

White Sands Activities

Visit the Visitor Center

It’s a great place to learn about the history and science of the area. And unlike the rest of the park, it’s free to visit here and see the Native Plant Garden. Be sure to fill up your water bottle, and consider picking up an Adventure Pack for your family members that might want to learn about the animals here. You can also pick up a Junior Ranger book, another great way for children to explore the landscape and connect with the experience. You might also enjoy the preview film, “A Land in Motion,” before departure.

Take a driving tour of Dunes Drive

On this eight mile scenic drive, which takes approximately 45 minutes, you can drive straight through or stop along the way to take photos, walk, hike, explore exhibits and go sledding in the dunes. The monument has five established trails for hiking and walking that are accessible from the drive.

Go on a hike

The two easiest options are Playa Trail, with great outdoor exhibits on the changing environment, and the Interdune Boardwalk, perfect for those in wheelchairs, strollers or with other movement challenges. It also has a shady canopy to escape the heat.

White Sands National Monument, Alamogordo, New Mexico | Outdoorsy RV Rental Marketplace
Shade on the boardwalk at White Sands National Monument, courtesy of RossAndJamieAdventure.com

Go sledding

Sledding in the desert. Who’d have thought this would be possible? It seems like science fiction, and yet it’s real. Bring a sled or circular plastic disk or purchase one at the Visitor’s Center and enjoy. (Staying at a campground? Ask if they have any available to borrow.)

Other nearby places to visit

There are a lot of fun attractions for tourists in this area. I’d definitely recommend finding at least one pistachio tour and a wine tour while you’re here – or you can get both at Heart of the Desert Pistachios & Wine. And of course there are plenty of campgrounds.

Check out the small but absolutely gorgeous Mountain Meadows RV Park, which is a few miles outside of town. You’ll have absolutely stunning views, horses for neighbors and a beautiful restroom/shower/laundry building. In search of a treat? Try Caliche’s for frozen custard.

This part of New Mexico is gorgeous and laid back, with tons to see and do. Plan a visit to Las Cruces if you’re in the area. It’s only about fifty miles away from Alamogordo (and even closer from the National Monument, which is outside of town). It has an incredibly charming downtown, four fabulous and free museums, a wonderful arts and foodie scene and more.

When you’re ready to plan your trip, you can find an RV rental here. If you’re flying into the area and then renting your RV, El Paso is probably the best airport to fly into.

Searching for other trip ideas? You can learn more about exploring the Outer Banks or about seeing Disney World in an RV. And if you’re nervous about your first time driving a Class C, this guide might help you relax!

Jamie Feinberg is a blogger, musician, theater artist and educator traveling the country full-time in her RV. She performs with her husband Ross Malcolm Boyd as they travel, and they co-own Tiny Village Music, offering private music lessons online in guitar, piano, ukulele, voice and more.

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