White Sands National Park

Geography, Climate, Map

Overview - Description - Things To Do - Where to Stay - Nearby



White Sands National Park is located in the northern Chihuahuan Desert of southern New Mexico. It lies in the Tularosa Basin, between the San Andres Mountains to the west and the Sacramento Mountains to the east.

The Park is situated between Holloman Air Force Base directly to the east and San Andres Wildlife Refuge immediately to the west. It is surrounded by the White Sands Missile Range, which encompasses a vast area that includes Trinity, the site of the first atomic bomb detonation, 50 miles north of the Monument.


The Tularosa Basin, a high desert area, averaging 4,000 feet in elevation, is subject to harsh, and sometimes rapidly changing climatic conditions. Summers are hot, averaging 95°F. highs in July and August, with frequent readings over 100°F. Winters are relatively mild, but nighttime temperatures often go below freezing and cold spells can send the mercury below zero. The lowest recorded temperature is -25°F. Snowfall is infrequent, but heavy snows have occurred on occasion. Precipitation averages about 8 inches per year, with most falling during summer thunderstorms, often accompanied by hail.

Wind is the dominant climatic factor here, especially from February through May. The prevailing southerly winds blow unimpeded across the desert and at times reach gale force. Wind storms can last for days in the spring. This is the time of the greatest dune movement, when living conditions for dune animal and plant communities become extremely harsh.

Weather Data for White Sands National Park, NM
(Degrees Fahrenheit)
 Month Avg. Max. Temp. Avg. Min. Temp. Avg. Precipitation
 January 56° 22° 0.50"
 February 62° 25° 0.30"
 March 69° 30° 0.25"
 April 79° 40° 0.25"
 May 88° 49° 0.25"
 June 96° 58° 0.60"
 July 97° 64° 1.40"
 August 95° 62° 1.20"
 September 90° 55° 1.25"
 October 80° 42° 0.75"
 November 66° 27° 0.25"
 December 56° 22° 0.50"

Getting There

By Auto
The Visitor Center is located on U.S. Highway 70/82, 16 miles southwest of Alamogordo and 52 miles east of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Travelers from Carlsbad Caverns to southern Arizona can follow U.S. 82 through the scenic Sacramento Mountains to White Sands National

Public Transportation
There is no public transportation to or in the Park. Rental cars, commercial airlines, Amtrak trains and Greyhound buses are from Las Cruces, New Mexico.



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