White Sands National Park
White Sands National Park is located in southern New Mexico, on the north side of U.S. Route 70. The park was originally a National Monument but was redesigned as a national park in December 2019 when Congress passed the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. While White Sands in located in New Mexico, the closest commercial airport is in El Paso, Texas, about 85 miles away.
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Texas is a big State. It is difficult to travel without a vehicle. White Sands cannot be reached by public transit, however, I have read that New Mexico State University does offer one shuttle service a day to the National Park.
Renting a Car:
I was visiting friends in El Paso, Texas with my bff. We reserved a compact car with Thrifty Car Rentals for $20/day. The car rental booth is located inside the airport which made it easy to check in after landing. We did not have to go far to pick up our Nissan Rogue. The process took a quick 10 minutes.
Driving to White Sands:
The drive to White Sands from El Paso was a straight shot. The roads were wide and pretty much empty most of the way. We did have to go through an immigration check point. It was our first time ever driving through one of those but it was like driving through an agricultural check point back home in California. We arrived in about 1.5 hours.
Entering into White Sands:
Just outside the White Sands check point, is the discovery center. The discovery center is where you can purchase your White Sand souvenir, find out the activities of the day, or use their clean bathroom facilities.
Entrance to White Sands is $25/vehicle and the pass is valid for 7 days. There are ample of parking when I went. The lot is in a U shape unlike most national parks where there are tons of trails and views that you can drive up to. White Sands National Park is small in comparison. Once you drive in, it won’t take long for you to reach the trail head.
White Sands National Park:
White Sands is about 148,500 acres. There are missile ranges that borders the entire park. The park does close during missile launches. The park has several walking trails. There are markers that guide you through the trails. We did not branch to far from our vehicle. We see that it would not be difficult to get lost here. We did see a few people bring their body boards to go down the dunes. There are some areas where the dunes are high that you can body board down or snowboard down.
It was winter when I went. The sand was cool. We saw a lady walk barefoot through the sand. We thought it was genius. We took off our shoes and marched through barefoot. The sand felt nice between our toes. We felt like we were in grade school playing in the sandbox. We rolled around making sand angels and played chase. We spent about 2.5 hours here before returning to El Paso for dinner.