Imagine arriving in a sea of white, surrounded by mountains. As the sun sets, the sea transforms into a magical view of pastel hues you can bask in all night long. Sounds a bit like a fake fairytale, but this is the beauty that awaits you at White Sands National Park.
Relatively speaking, White Sands is much smaller than some other US National Parks (like UT Parks), but it’s worth a day trip!
In this post, I’ll cover how to spend 24 hours in White Sands so you can cross this unique Southwest destination off your bucket-list!
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Explore Alkali Flat Trail
Once in the parking lot, you’ll undoubtedly see families with sleds all over the place. Start hiking the Alkali Flat trail, though, and you’ll find yourself in more secluded parts of the dunes.
The layers and formations alone will leave you in awe!
The Alkali Flat trail will present you with dunes of massive scale, too, which make it one of the best things to do in White Sands NM.
Visit Lake Lucero
While I didn’t get here on this trip, it’s worth noting that there is an oasis in the middle of these vast dunes! Talk about something to add to your list of things to do in White Sands NM!
The dunes of White Sands hold water. When there’s enough, Lake Lucero fills up for all to see. This spot is known as the “Birthplace” of White Sands.
Permits are required to visit this spot, and you can snag one at the Visitors Center.
Go Backcountry Camping
Camping is by far one of my favorite things to do in White Sands NM. There are only ten permits sold per day at the Visitors Center.
Because of this, I recommend getting here early! My group ended up at camp number two, which proved to be a great spot for sunset. What makes the campground special is the San Andres Mountains in the distance.
The sun sets itself between the range, coloring the dunes orange and purple. I also need to note that you cannot stay in the dunes during sunset if you do not have a camping permit. Doing so can result in a fine! Check out some of our pictures from sunset below.
Shoot the Milky Way
Should you get a camping permit, you’ll find yourself in a prime spot for the Milky Way.
My group set their alarms for 4:00 am to snag some shots! I, on the other hand, stayed sleeping in the tent.
24hrs in White Sands National Park: My Final Thoughts
White Sands National Park is such a unique place! No matter what things to do you choose to add to your list, you’ll be rewarded with the beauty of the dunes. If you do anything from this list, let me know in the comments!
And if you’re a national park lover like me, you might enjoy some of my other National Park blogs ;).
PS: Make sure you check out the National Park Service website for White Sands National Park entry fees.