Travel Tips to White Sands National Monument

white sand5.jpg

Did you know…

white sands exist in other beautiful places besides the coastlines of Destin and Bali?!

They do in New Mexico! White Sands National Monument consists of white gypsum sand and stretches 275 square miles. This past Veterans Day weekend, I visited my brother, who recently moved to El Paso. Although it’s in Texas, it is a 13 hour drive from Houston. No worries! I was there in two hours. Thank you, #SWAgift!


TIP: Pack enough snacks to last you the day.

Two places were on my must-see list: Hueco Tanks and White Sands. With my trusty Thrifty rental of a red Soul, the four of us (my parents, brother, and I) packed sandwiches, fruit, and nuts for our adventure. Although we had breakfast, we managed to eat almost all of our snacks, except some fruit, while waiting to get into Hueco Tanks.

Hueco Tanks

Hueco Tanks

TIP: Book a reservation to Hueco Tanks weeks in advance.

The park was at capacity of 70, and we had to wait for people to leave for us to enter. There were 15 people ahead of us. An hour later, there was no one ahead of us. Woo! After another 20 minutes, we decided to leave. We didn't know how long people would stay at the park bouldering and exploring. On to the next one!

TIP: The national parks are free on Veterans Day!

We grabbed lunch and headed towards WSNP, an hour and half drive away from El Paso. I was so delighted to find out at the park entrance that we could roam the park for free, saving us $20! It would have been $5/person.

How is this vast beauty formed? The gypsum is washed from the surrounding mountains by rain and left behind at the Tularosa Basin, when the water evaporates. Thus, forming the endless white sands 4,200 feet above sea level in the middle of the freakin’ desert.

Check out some of the photos I captured!


TIP: Ask a couple waiting in line to return their purchased sleds where they found their sleds.

It costs $20 to rent a sled from the gift shop. I had asked a couple in line, where to pick up the sleds, and they offered to sell us theirs! They would've gotten back $4 for each sled, which was all they asked for the pair! What a deal and kind couple!

Other tips:

  • Drink plenty of water.

  • If you plan on trekking far, know where you are by using a compass or leaving trail markers. It is pretty windy, and the wind sweeps away your tracks.

  • Dress appropriately for the weather. It was sunny and windy, when I went in November, and I got cold when the weather dropped to the 60’s (and the sand was also cold - I was walking on it barefoot). Good thing I was wearing a jacket!

  • Know what time the park closes and the sun sets, so that you can make it back to your car safely.

  • If White Sands is a pit stop in your travels, you can camp there! Camping requires hiking at least one mile to a campsite. Car camping and RV camping are not allowed.

Had a blast visiting this unique sight and sledding down the dunes with my family. So many laughs! Another item on my bucket list is checked off.

To more explorations and adventures in 2019!


Teresa Thuy