White Sands National Monument was one of the coolest places I have visited. You get to experience sand so white that it looks like snow. You can even sled down the sand dunes the way you would snow hills. After our family visit to the White Sands National Park, we put together this list of tips.
Things to Know Before Visiting White Sands National Monument
Planning a Trip to White Sands National Monument
We visited White Sands National Monument during the first week of June. I would not recommend going anytime after June due to the heat. You have to remember it is a desert and it gets very hot and dry. We recommend going to White Sands National Monument during cooler months, spring break would be perfect.
In the month of June, the National Park opened at 7 am and hosted a complimentary sunset guided tour at 7 pm. The hottest part of the day between 1 pm and 4 pm was almost unbearable. However, in the early morning and evening hours, the sand was cool to touch. We had a blast during our two-day visit by breaking up the times we were at the park to avoid extended time in the heat.
Check for Road Closures
One thing you need to know about White Sands National Monument is it is located right next to a government missile range military base. That means when they are doing missile testing, for safety precautions, they shut down U.S. Highway 70 for up to 3 hours. Before making your day trip over to White Sands National Monument, check the National Parks page to see if there are any closures. When the highway is closed, so is the entrance to the park which can cause you a delay in your plans.
What to Pack for White Sands National Monument
When you visit White Sands National Monument I would recommend you bring with you the following:
- Bandana – We did bring bandanas for each family member and they came in handy. When sledding down the sand dunes use a bandana to cover your face and protect yourself from getting sand up your nose or in your mouth.
- Camera Bag or Cover – While visiting the park you never know how the weather will change. At any time you can have a sand storm blow through, as we did on one of the nights we visited. If you bring a DSLR camera you want to make sure that you carry your camera bag with you or some sort of a cover that you can protect your camera from sand. I didn’t have my camera bag with me so I had to put my camera up my shirt to protect it from a sudden sand storm.
- Slip-on Shoes – From experience, we highly recommend you do not wear tennis shoes with socks on the dunes. You will be dumping sand for days. We recommend a shoe that is easy to clean. However, flip-flops may be difficult to keep on your feet when walking up steep sand dunes when your feet sink in. A slip-on with a back is ideal.
- Bottled Water – White Sands National Monument is in the middle of the desert where it is hot and dry. Pack plenty of water to stay hydrated. Bottled water also comes in handy when rinsing off your feet before handing home.
- Sunglasses – It is very bright when walking up the sand dunes and sunglasses double as eye protection when sledding down.
- Sunscreen – The sun reflects off the bright white sand and can quickly burn your skin. Make sure you are protected.
- Towel/Body Wipes – Body wipes are amazing to use to get the excess sand off your hands and feet at the end of your visit to White Sands National Monument. We were not prepared and it took us weeks to remove all the sand from our vehicle. A towel will come in handy to make sure you get all those little sand particulars off your camera and phone.
- Bag – to toss your dirty bandanas and towels in to limit the amount of sand transferred into your vehicle.
Family Fun at White Sands National Monument
At the entrance of the National Park, there is a gift shop. Beyond buying your souvenirs and snacks inside, you can purchase sleds for the sand dunes. During our visit, the new sleds cost $16 and they gave you the option of returning them with your receipt to receive $5 back. If they have used ones available, you can purchase a used one for $10 and return it with your receipt to receive $3 back. One thing we recommend buying is the wax they sell for the bottom of the board. We didn’t think we would need it and regretted it almost immediately. The sled slightly buckled when the adults tried going down and the wax would have made the ride a lot smoother and faster.
We share more details from our visit on this week’s #TravelTuesday podcast. Listen below or head over to iTunes to subscribe to The Places We Travel Podcast – where we share family-friendly travel tips and stories.
During our road trip from Texas to Arizona and back, we visited White Sands National Monument and the Four Corners where we got to stand in four states at once!
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