If you want to explore the dunes at the White Sands National Park in the south of New Mexico, this road trip will take you across stunning landscapes, rich history, and diverse culture.
Our Denver to White Sands National Park would take just less than 15 hours if you were to drive the route directly. This is a relatively straight route, taking you through Santa Fe and some of the most beautiful spots of wilderness that America has to offer. This journey should take around two or three days, but there are plenty of ways that you can extend your trip, or you could stay at any of our points of interest for longer.
As well as historical spots and geographical beauty, there is also a selection of unique attractions and roadside stops as well as RV campsites to spend the night. As always, we recommend you check out the weather forecast before you make your trip. Also, in some parts of this journey, cell coverage can be spotty so always ensure that you pack emergency supplies. Finally, let someone know your itinerary before you head out- just to be on the safe side!
Located in the heart of New Mexico, the Salinas Pueblo Mission National Monument is a huge complex, which includes the impressive remains of three Spanish missions. This hidden gem is located just southeast of Albuquerque. Learn more about the rich history of the area at the Visitor Centre in Mountainair and marvel at the relics of ancient pueblos. If you are looking for a tour of the petroglyphs, you will need to call the visitor center in advance.
The one mile Spanish Corral Trail hike is definitely recommended, with the chance to explore the region on a picturesque developed trail suitable for all levels and abilities. If you would like to spend the night in the area, camping is not permitted at the monument itself. However, there are plenty of private campgrounds nearby and the nearest public campgrounds are situated within the Manzano Mountain State Park.
There is much to see and do in Santa Fe, including a visit to the Loretto Chapel. Also known as the Chapel of Our Lady of Light, this former Roman Catholic Church is now a museum that provides the chance to learn more about the Sisters of Loretto. This breathtakingly beautiful chapel is an Instagram- worthy popular spot, with its beautiful architecture and centuries-old artifacts. It is particularly well known for its helix-shaped spiral staircase, also known as the stairway to heaven or the miracle stairs. The lack of a central pole supporting the staircase is what makes it truly impressive.
There is a lot going on in Santa Fe; with more than a dozen museums throughout the city, as well as restaurants, shopping and more. Check out Meow Wolf for an artistic hidden gem. This is a permanent exhibit that includes interactive art exhibitions and the House of Eternal Return funhouse. For fans of craft beers and delightful ales, there are some excellent breweries to discover in the region.
The next stop on our trip provides the perfect place to spend the night, with the opportunity to relax and unwind in the peaceful outdoors. The Heron Lake Campground is built around the picturesque lake and surrounded by tall pine forests. There are seven different campgrounds to choose from, which include over 250 developed campsites. 54 of them have full hook-ups and each site is also equipped with a table and fire ring for your convenience.
There is a wealth of recreation in the area, including sailing, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. In fact, the Heron Lake State Park is well known for being home to some record-busting trout; so if you are a keen angler, you will definitely want to pack your rod.
Set around the tallest sand dunes in North America, the 107, 342-acre Great Dunes National Park features a varied landscape of forests, alpine lake, tundra, grasslands, and wetlands. With majestic snow-capped mountains providing the perfect backdrop, the spectacular scenery is home to a diverse range of wildlife species, and it is the perfect place to enjoy hiking, sand sledding, and more. This is the perfect place to unwind and get back to nature, with a recent Soundscape study reporting that this is the quietest national park in the Continental US.
Just down the road from the Great Dunes National Park, the UFO watchtower is also worth a visit. Around 15 ft. high, this peculiar building is filled with intergalactic oddities and newspaper articles about potential sightings and so-called alien abductions in the area. The peculiar vortex garden is a unique and charming scene, and rumor has it that leaving an item here will bring you luck.
The Garden of the Gods is a public park located in Colorado Springs, and it was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1971. One of the most visited attractions in the region with over two million visitors per year, this beautiful park is filled with sandstone rock formations and phenomenal views of Pike Peaks and the gardens below.
There are miles of developed hiking trails throughout the 1367- acre Park and both the park and the Visitor and Nature Center are free to the public. Nearby, you could also check out the Manitou Cave Dwellings. Situated just west of Colorado Springs, this site includes faux-cliff dwellings and a replica archaeological site. Examine the architecture of the ancient Anasazi and browse through the two museums to learn more about the fascinating history of this ancient civilization.
As you arrive at the White Sands National Park, hopefully, you will have enjoyed your road trip RV adventure. Here you can discover the world's largest gypsum dune field as well as the chance to partake in a variety of outdoor recreational activities.
You will definitely want to check out the Visitor Centre to find out more about the area. Plus, you can also rent sand saucers here for whizzing down the dunes! Whatever time of year you are visiting, don’t forget to pack your sunscreen as the sun’s harmful rays reflect off the sands. RV camping is not permitted in White Sands Park, but there are several public and private campgrounds nearby.