• Sylvie Novotny

White Sands National Monument gets a Park Upgrade

Updated: Feb 20, 2020

There are things in this world that don’t get the recognition they truly deserve. National Monuments are one of those treasure troves in America. They wait patiently as families get out of their suburbans, making a pit stop to stretch their legs and let their kids finally use a bathroom. They live out year after year of lower entrance fees, patiently waiting for recognition like a waitress in Los Angeles waiting for her agent to call with her big break.

On December 20, 2019, White Sands National Monument received its recognition. Congress looked at it, considered its place as the world’s largest gypsum dune field and said “You’re a Park, kid.”

On a road trip to California from Texas, I insisted that this be a stop and since it is conveniently situated outside of Las Cruces, it was the ideal trip for the stop. She doesn’t disappoint, and there are some things you should know.

Gas up!

White Sands Monument is about an hour (52 miles) outside of Las Cruces which is a bit of a drive and you’ll want to make sure your car has the juice to make the trek there and back. The closest gas station is to the north, about 15 miles away, so you need to plan, especially if you don’t want to drive North for gas just to drive south again to get back. The reason for this is that gas stations are not allowed in the area due to missile testing done near by. So, don’t expect this information to change any time soon.

Visit the Gift Store First

Walking is for chumps. If you want to take advantage of the dunes or convince your kids that the hour drive was worth it, you can rent sleds from the gift stop at the front of the park. Just make sure you’re aware of the shop hours so you don’t show up around closing time and get shut out.

You Can Be There Day or Night

The park is lovely during sunset or even in the evenings and Park Rangers even offer Full Moon Hikes for visitors to the park and from May to October, they hold events during full moons that sometimes includes live music and other events!

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