This Is One Of The Most Underrated U.S. National Parks You Shouldn’t Miss In 2024

This Is One Of The Most Underrated U.S. National Parks You Shoudln't Miss In 2024

Do you love spending time outdoors but are tired of the parks in your area and evergreens visited by millions of tourists yearly? The less-known national parks all have a unique charm and usually boast something you can’t find anywhere else.

One stands out the most from them. Located in the heart of the Tularosa Basin in southern New Mexico, you will find the White Sands National Parka beautiful deserted area created from glistening white dunes.

Not just a desert

What makes this place so special is the “sand” itself. Because it’s not just regular sand you know from beaches or other deserts – it’s nearly pure gypsum.

Similar to sugar or salt, gypsum solutes in water and is usually washed away from the mountains during rainfall. However, as the Tularosa Basin is rather enclosed, gypsum stays within. Here it covers more than 270 square miles, making it the world’s largest gypsum dune field.

Top activities & attractions

Interdune Boardwalk

The best way to explore the stunning landscape of the park is through its 5 hiking trails.

Playa Trail and Dune Life Nature Trail are the shortest and easiest ones, perfect to hit if you’re coming along with your family. It shouldn’t take more than an hour to hike them.

On the other hand, Interdune Boardwalk is also short but elevated, offering fantastic views at the end.

For an afternoon hike, opt for the Backcountry Camping Trail or Alkali Flat Trail. Note that even though the latter one has the word “flat” in its name, there is some walking up.

Alkali Flat Trail

Alternatively, you can take a scenic drive through the park. The Dunes Drive is an 8-mile-long one-way road suitable for normal vehicles, motorcycles, RVs as well as bicycles. Along the road, you will find some trailheads, picnic areas, and sledding spots that are definitely worth a stop.

Sledding is a popular activity at White Sands. All you need is a plastic sled that you can either bring or purchase at the giftshop (there is no sled rental).

Best time to visit White Sands National Park

Picnic shelters at Dunes Drive

You can tell from the character of the environment that White Sands National Park is a very rough area. Therefore, the best time to visit it is either in fall, winter, or spring. The temperatures are mild and you will avoid the burning sun.

What we don’t recommend is planning your trip for summer, as it gets extremely hot, about 100°F and sometimes even more. Also, it’s the wettest season of all, yet only with about 2 inches of rainfall per month.

Where to stay

There are 10 backcountry campsites at the park. However, they are currently under reconstruction with no exact dates of reopening.

Therefore, the best place to stay is at Alamogordo. The town is set about 15 miles from the park and offers plenty of accommodation and dining options.

What else you should know

The sun is harsh at White Sands, so don’t forget to bring a lot of water, a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses.

Also, check the hours of operation before you go, so you don’t get locked in. The park opens at 7 am and closes between 6 pm and 9 pm, depending on when the sun sets.

Are you traveling with your furry friend? Apart from inside the visitor center, leashed dogs are allowed everywhere.