The Tularosa Basin in the northern Chihuahuan Desert is a mountain-ringed valley encompassing one of the world's great natural wonders -- the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Here, giant, wave-like dunes of gypsum sand move across 275 square miles of desert creating the world's largest gypsum dune field.
The brilliant white dunes are ever changing: growing, cresting, then slumping, but always advancing. Slowly but relentlessly the sand, driven by strong southwest winds, covers everything in its path. Within the extremely harsh environment of the dune field, even plants and animals adapted to desert conditions struggle to survive. Only a few species of plants grow rapidly enough to survive burial by moving dunes, but several types of small animals have evolved a white coloration that camouflages them in the gypsum sand.
White Sands National Monument preserves a major portion of this gypsum dune field, along with the plants and animals that have successfully adapted to this constantly changing environment.
Rates & Fees
The Monument entrance fee is $3.00 per person, 17 years of age or older, and is good for 7 days. Entrance fees are collected at the entrance station on the Dunes Drive.
A $50.00 Golden Eagle Passport is available, which allows free admission into all national park areas in the U.S. for one year from date of purchase. Travelers who plan on visiting a number of national park areas will save money by purchasing a Golden Eagle Passport.
The White Sands Park Pass, which allows admission to White Sands only for one calendar year from date of purchase, is available for $20.00.
Permanent U.S. residents 62 years or older may purchase a $10 Golden Age Passport (one time fee), which allows lifetime free admission into all national park areas. A free Golden Access Passports (for disabled U.S. citizens) is also available.
Special Program Fees
Lake Lucero Tours: $3.00 per person; $1.50 per person for 16 and under and Golden Age passport holders.
The Monument is open daily, except Christmas Day via Dunes Drive. Summer Hours (Memorial Day through mid-August): 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM Winter Hours: 7:00 AM to sunset.
White Sands National Monument Visitor Center is located on U.S. Highway 70, 16 miles south of Alamogordo, New Mexico.
Summer Hours (Memorial Day through mid-August): 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM Winter Hours: 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Stores/Museum White Sands Visitor Center includes a museum, information desk, book store, gift shop and restrooms. The bookstore, which sells books, maps, posters, videotapes and audio tapes, is operated by the Southwest Parks and Monuments Association for the benefit of the Monument.
Programs/Events Interpretive Programs, Public Astronomy Programs and Teacher Workshops occur throughout the year. Here is a schedule. They include Full Moon Program, Friday Night Star Walk, Star Parties, and Lake Lucero Tours. For further information call 505-479-6124 or 505-679-2599.
Refreshments and snacks can be purchased at the Visitor Center gift shop from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. (Summer 8:00 AM to 6 PM.) Gasoline and other supplies are available in Alamogordo, 16 miles north.
Accessibility All facilities in the Visitor Center and picnic areas are wheelchair accessible. The sand dunes themselves are accessible to wheelchairs to a limited degree.