When told about a destination with endless white sand, most travelers would likely think of the Caribbean or other beach paradise.
But we Proud American Travelers aren’t your everyday travelers.
This special spot has all the sand you could want and excursions you’ve never imagined – and it’s in a landlocked state!
Stretching across the Tularosa Basin of southern New Mexico lies White Sands National Park.
The sand is so crystal white, it looks like diamonds have been sprinkled throughout the rolling dunes.
This spectacular site is the world’s largest gypsum dune field covering a whopping 275 square-miles.
How does it glisten like snow on a sunny morning?
After the Permian Sea evaporated, layers of gypsum (a mineral) were transformed by the elements into a fine white sand.
As with all National Parks in recent years, White Sands has seen an increase in visitors despite it being off the beaten path.
The park is 1.5 hours from El Paso airport and 3.5 hours from Albuquerque, but makes a great road trip destination.
Be sure to set aside an entire day to explore White Sands National Park because it’s not just the view you will want to experience.
Start your journey at the White Sands Visitor Center, which is also a national historic district, and check out the bookstore, gift shop, and a short film about the park.
You’ll want to fill up your water bottles here too because, according to Just Go Travel Studios, this is the last place to do so before you enter endless hills of just sand.
You don’t want to end up like Pauly Shore from In the Army Now dehydrated in the desert with mirages reminding you the visitor center would’ve been a good place to stock up on water.
Picking up a sled in Las Cruces or Alamogordo before you enter the park for some white-sand sledding is also a good idea, or bring your own surfboard to add an extra adrenaline boost to the excursion.
Navigating the park is easy with the provided 16-mile round trip route around Dunes Drive.
And no, you do not need an off-road vehicle – all vehicle types are suitable on the path – just don’t rush it or you may swerve off the sandy roadway.
There are picnic areas and restrooms along the way so definitely pack a lunch and dine in the middle of a sandy wonderland.
Bring comfy shoes to hike the popular trails and stay until sunset for a breathtaking view like you’ve never seen.
The Dune Life Nature Trail is an easy 1-mile loop the whole family can enjoy and you may even see foxes, coyotes, rabbits, bobcats, badgers, or porcupines – all animals that find their home in this sandy oasis.
There’s no doubt White Sands National Park is a treasure.
So plan to add this destination to your next road trip to the southwest – you won’t regret it!