White Sands National Park is located in south-central New Mexico right about the most western point of Texas, United States. The national park encompasses an area of 224.58 square miles (581.67 sq km).
The New Mexico national park sits at an elevation of 4,235 feet (1,291 m). The white sand is comprised of gypsum with it covering a field of gypsum sand dunes over 275 square miles (710 sq km). It is the largest collection of gypsum sand dunes in the world.
One of the historical features of the national park is a collection of fossilized footprints from the ice age.
The white sand dunes are constantly changing their shapes as winds blow the sands downwind. Dome, transverse, and parabolic dunes are located in the northern and southern regions of the park.
There are minimal vegetation and minimal wildlife species. Lizards and mice are the primary species populating the area.
White Sands Highlights
The endless sea of pure white gypsum sand dunes is the highlight of the park. Families, children, and hikers enjoy playing and trekking in the sand. One of the fun things is to take plastic sleds and slide down the dunes as if on snow.
Trails of White Sands National Park
White Sands National Park allows for exploration throughout the park. There is a boardwalk that allows easy access to experience the park.
Interdune Boardwalk: This is a short 0.3-mile (0.48 km) one-way boardwalk trail that makes it easy for people to walk out into the sand dunes and see the expanse of endless white gypsum sand dunes. Walking in the sand can be challenging and this boardwalk makes it nice for those who have challenges in their navigation of the sand.
Alkali Flat Trail: This is a loop trail covering a distance of 4.9 miles (7.9 km) with only a slight elevation change of 52 feet (15.8 m). It is an easy trail with views out over the white sand dunes. This provides visitors with an excellent chance to see the natural wonders of the white sand dunes.
White Sand Backcountry Trail: This is a shorter loop covering a distance of 1.8 miles (2.89 km). This trail only has an elevation change of 6 feet (1.86 m). It lets visitors experience some of the vegetation of the dunes while also giving an escape into the outdoors.
Dune Life Nature Trail: This is a short 1-mile loop (1.6 km) with no elevation change. It is a simple and easy way to walk around and experience the national park’s sand dunes.
Big Dune Loop: Although it is a loop trail with no elevation change, that is misleading. The elevation changes regularly going up and down repeatedly. It can be as much as 190 feet (57.91 m).
With any of the trails, it is recommended that you wear protective gear, sunscreen lotion, and take plenty of water. This is a desert and the temperatures can be quite hot. The springtime provides a great opportunity to see wildflowers amongst the vegetation surrounding the dunes.
White Sands Highlights
- Sea of white sand dunes
- All Trails, White Sands National Monument, https://www.alltrails.com/parks/us/new-mexico/white-sands-national-monument, retrieved December 2020.
- Britannica, White Sands National Monument, https://www.britannica.com/place/White-Sands-National-Monument, retrieved December 2019.
- National Park Foundation, White Sands National Monument, https://www.nationalparks.org/explore-parks/white-sands-national-monument, retrieved December 2019.
- National Park Service, White Sands National Monument, https://www.nps.gov/whsa/index.htm, retrieved December 2019.
- New Mexico, White Sands National Monument, https://www.newmexico.org/places-to-visit/regions/southeast/white-sands-national-monument/, retrieved December 2019.