National Parks

How to Spend 24hrs in White Sands National Park

Jan 10, 2019

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This blog is all about how to spend 24hrs in White Sands National Park!

Things to do in White Sands National Park

The first time I visited White Sands National Park was a year ago on a family road trip to the Hatch Chile Festival. We spent a few hours sledding down the dunes before the bright sand left us feeling tired and sunburnt. During my most recent times in the dunes, a friend invited Scott and me to come with him to New Mexico for the weekend. I’ll be honest, the three of us weren’t quite sure how to spend an entire day in the sand. Leading up to our trip, we contemplated going somewhere else. Little did we know there are other things to do in White Sands NM besides sledding!

​I’m happy we decided to stick to the plans, though! Once there, we laughed more than four people probably should in one sitting.

Below is my itinerary for things to do in White Sands NP for 24 hours. Should you find yourself here, check out these spots!

PS: Make sure you check out the National Park Service website for White Sands National Park entry fees.

White Sands National Park

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.

Sunset at white Sands National Park

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 ;).

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  1. Joyce from Alamogordo says:

    Actually you can be there at sunset during winter. I live nearby and have gotten a lot if great photos and videos there at sunset.

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I'm a burrito loving explorer who got fired from corporate America and turned that into my dream career as a photographer and blogger. Now I'm here to help you explore life's magic. Thanks for stopping by!