White Sands National Monument is located in Central New Mexico. It is a one of a kind adventure, but it most closely reminded us of Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah. The difference is the color of the sand. There are acres and acres of pure white sand, just the color of sugar and twice as soft. The sand never gets hot, either, because it is white and reflects the sunlight. Even though it was in the high 90s, the sand felt cool on our feet. Be sure to slather on the sunscreen, though, because the reflection makes the sun burn twice as much. A good pair of sunglasses will also help with the glare.
There is a Visitor’s Center at White Sands National Monument, along with a gift shop. Our boys like to do the Junior Ranger Program at these sites, so we stopped and walked through the tiny museum. The movie was definitely worth watching, too, as it explained how the white dunes formed, and are still forming. There are even animals that have adapted to be lighter in color so they blend in with their surroundings.
At the gift shop, you can buy a sand sled, which you can sell back later, or you can bring your own from home. Be sure to pick up some wax for the sleds, too. The real fun of the park is sledding down the dunes. It’s best to drive all the way out the loop as the dunes get better and better as you go.
We spent a lot of time sledding, but we also stopped at one of the dozens of picnic spots along the way and cooked hotdogs. Each spot has a shaded table along with a raised grill to cook (charcoal works best). So while the adults cooked, the kids sledded down the dunes over and over again.
Our oldest really likes wildlife, and it was his goal to spot one of the pure white lizards that inhabit the sand dunes. After climbing dunes and sifting through the underbrush, he finally spotted two of them, but we weren’t quick enough to get a picture. Mom loved digging deeper in the sand and putting her feet in the extra cold sand a few inches down.
If you find yourself in the Alamogordo area, or are planning a roadtrip to New Mexico, make sure to stop by White Dunes National Monument. It turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip to Carlsbad Cavern! We played way longer than planned and we would head here again in a heartbeat.