Looking for a Southwestern weekend getaway? Look no further than New Mexico’s White Sands National Monument. Camping in these iconic gypsum dunes will make you feel like you’ve stepped straight into one of those “Greetings from Route 66″-type postcards from the 60’s. With only 10 primitive campsites scattered throughout the peaks and troughs of the dunes, White Sands caters to those who crave a little solitude on their outdoor outings.
Things to Know for a Weekend in White Sands
- All ten campsites are available on a first come, first serve basis. If you’re planning on a visit during a holiday weekend, play it safe and come early in the week to claim your spot.
- During the summer months, it can get HOT. I’m talking upwards of 110 degrees. We arrived midday in June and were met with 114 degree heat. We were able to get some reprieve by sitting under the (very cool and very retro) picnic areas. Don’t let this scare you though, the desert like atmosphere means that as soon as the sun starts to go down, you’ll be able to enjoy very comfortable evening temps. Just be sure to pack plenty of water, ample sunscreen, one of those goofy sun hats and MORE WATER!
- White Sands is dog friendly! Can you believe it? The best places never let you bring your dog but White Sands is an exception. Be smart though: if you’re coming in the summer months, do Spot a favor and leave him behind.
- Pack light and share the load. If you’re camping at one of the White Sands backcountry campsites, understand that it’s a pretty good haul up and down sandy dunes to find your site (which is marked by a single post in the ground so be vigilant, they’re easy to miss). This is a do as I say, not as I do piece of advice. I insisted on bringing my Yeti Roadie full of iced down beer and snacks to our campsite and my back and shoulders (and best friend, Hope) could not have been more pissed at me for that unfortunate, time sucking mistake. Moral of the story, lighten your load!
- Those dunes are made for sliding. And that’s just what you’ll do! (Baby these little dunes are gonna slide all over you?). I digress. Nothing says fun like whipping down a sizable dune so don’t forget to pack a sled. Even a trashcan lid will work! There’s plenty of dunes prime for the sliding right by the parking lot making it easy to stash your sweet ride back in your car before heading to your campsite.
White Sands is really one of those natural wonders you have to see in person to truly appreciate. It is impossible to take a bad picture in this place unless you just forget to take the lens cap off so do yourself a favor and make a trip out to Alamogordo, NM for one the best camping spots the Southwest has to offer! For more info on White Sands National Monument visit the official NPS website.