A Photographer’s Dream
White Sands are a favorite destination for many photographers of any skill level due to its endless possibilities and breathtaking views. No two photos are ever the same since the wind is constantly moving the sand around creating different shapes in the dunes. However, it is not so windy that you can’t enjoy the dunes itself. As the sun passes overhead throughout the day, the lighting and shadows all provide new photographic opportunities from various angles. You also have the mountains as a backdrop and clear blue skies most of the year, making crisp views and opportunistic photo-capturing moments.
As the famous New Mexican sunsets start taking place, the dunes become into something new entirely, with the sunset’s rich orange and pink hues reflecting onto the sand. You can also take advantage of the monthly full moon hours in which the park is open until midnight, providing a unique type of lighting for photographs. Be sure to also get some shots of the state plant- a yucca into the picture. If you’re lucky, you’ll even run into one of the white horned lizards native to the area.
Fun for all ages
One of the best ways to enjoy White Sands is to simply play in it! Rent a sled from the gift shop or bring your own and spend literally hours of simply sledding down the dunes and rolling around in the sand. The kids will have fun getting their torsos buried under the cool sand or playing with buckets and shovels. An educational way to get them involved in the national park is to become a Junior Ranger. At the visitors center they can pick up an activity book, fill out the activities and get a special badge to show that they are now a Junior Ranger of White Sands National Monument.
Camp Out in the White Desert
If you’re looking for a truly unique camping experience, spend a night or two camping at designated areas in the dunes. These are usually off the main road and take some hiking to get to. Keep in mind that absolutely no water can be found in the hundreds of miles of the dunes, so its vital that you pack enough water ahead of time as it can be dangerous otherwise. After all, it is a desert even though it can remind many of the beach. Although deserts like New Mexico are hot during the spring and summer months during the day, it can actually get cold during the night, so prepare accordingly.
Where to Stay
For those who prefer to not go camping, the nearest town is Alamogordo, New Mexico which is about 15 minutes away. Las Cruces, which is a larger city is about 1 hour away. Alamogordo, however, provides some rare opportunities that you may want to take advantage of including a space museum filled with plenty of authentic NASA gear and rockets. If you stay at a hotel there, you can visit White Sands various times over the course of 72 hours and only have to pay for the first time as long as you save your receipt. White Sands is one destination you’ll want to visit time and time again.