New Mexico’s White Sands becomes the newest U.S. national park
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
The glistening white sand of New Mexico’s Tularosa Basin has become the newest destination in the U.S. National Park System. On Dec. 20, 2019, legislation transformed New Mexico’s White Sands National Monument into the 62nd national park. In guidebooks, this park will now be listed among stalwarts like Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon.
Not just any place can make it to the big leagues and become a national park. To make the cut, the scenery must be incredible; the area must include some type of natural wonder. The region must also provide recreational value for visitors.
White Sands in southern New Mexico near Holloman Air Force Base, has always been a special spot. On Jan. 18, 1933, President Herbert Hoover set out to preserve this sandy landscape because of its “scenic, scientific and educational interest.” Now, it’s a U.S. national park.
What’s special about White Sands?
White Sands covers 275 square miles of desert in New Mexico’s Tularosa Basin, where the winds of time have created wave-like dunes of gypsum sand that sparkle brightly in the sun.
Park goers come to see the sand formations, hike, drive or bike along the scenic eight-mile Dunes Drive. they can also ride horses and even sled down the dunes. (The gift shop sells plastic saucers specifically for sledding.)
Rangers lead a variety of programs, including a sunset stroll, full moon hike and also — once a month — tours at nearby Lake Lucero, where you can see selenite crystals that are up to two feet long. There are also some audio tours you can pick up at the visitor center, including one about the native plants in this area of the Chihuahuan Desert.
There’s also on-site camping (although it’s limited to 10 highly sought-after campsites).
El Paso International Airport (ELP) is the closest airport, about 85 miles south of White Sands. The White Sands Visitor Center and Dunes Drive is off U.S. Route 70 between Alamogordo and Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Featured image © National Park Service.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees