White Sands National Park was a Monument the last time we drove by and we didn’t stop because it wasn’t a National Park. Here we are in 2021. White Sands National Park was made the 62nd National Park in late 2019, just before the year of covid. After completing all the National Parks in 2019, we thought we might be done…..guess not.
As you can see from the signs, still in conversion from a monument to a park! We were held up due to road closers because of missile testing so we arrive at 9:30 am, along with lots of other people who waited. Sadly, the visitor center is only partially open, no exhibits or movies to watch. You can get inside to get your National Park passport stamp, buy some postcards, point at some t-shirts to buy and rent sleds for the sands. All of this has to be done masked-up and by your party/family one by one, social distance. For goodness sakes, we are in the middle of nowhere, basically outdoors…..so ridiculously cautious it makes no sense. Most of the other visitors feel the same. They comply with masks when they want to go in but they have been traveling the country in their RVs, trucks pulling trailers and individual cars from so many different states, it’s fascinating, really! American’s are resilient!
There is a 45 minutes drive through the park, a loop road, with stops along the way. We make a stop at the boardwalk and then again at the end of the loop at the Alkali Trail. Every park has it uniqueness worth recording and every park has a trail of some kind to hike. The road is paved for part of the way and then turns to sand. Early on the road there is grasses and sand dunes with plants. Lots of pull offs to check things out.
Once we arrive at the end of the loop, there is the Alkali Trail. This is also where the most pristine sand dunes existing waiting for people to take the sleds and slide down or hike into the never, never land of white sand dunes. We do the hike first and then I attempt the sledding LOL. The hike speaks for itself – 5 miles round trip with spectacular views of the San Andres Mountains which you never get close to while hiking the white sand dunes. Fortunately, the weather is mild today – high of 82 and a breeze. It’s still hot and bright on the dunes…..not as hot as Florida is right now!
You can buy a sled and wax for it at the visitor’s center. I thought I would attempt the sledding just for fun. Well, climb the dune to the top to sled down…yes, fun…you need to be a lot younger!
A quick stop at the nature trail reveals to us that the Alkali Trail was much more the experience we wanted at this national park.
Driving to and from this National Park is easy on state road 70. The view of the San Andres Mountains from Las Cruces to the park are awesome in the morning with the sun reflecting on the vistas. Coming back on state road 70 we have a good view of one of the peaks. Hoping tomorrow to drive to the mountains and see what hiking might be possible there.