White sands national monument is absolutely stunning. The campground is on a loop you have to follow signs up and down dunes until you reach your assigned site. Super cheap, super private, super beautiful! Backcountry camping makes its sound more intimidating than it is. Pack light because you do have to walk all your stuff in, but it’s not far and it’s not a challenging hike. Amazing sunrise and sunset. You don’t have to wear shoes here! Very child friendly. I don’t have kids but it seems very conducive for kid camping. It is open and spacious and you wouldn’t disturb anyone.
Spent an August Saturday night at the campground. Drive-in, pit toilets (pretty clean) and ~50 sites. Low light pollution and amazing views of the Organ Mountains. Organ Needle, Rabbit Ears, Sugarloaf, and Baylor peaks are all visible from the campgrounds. Would have been perfect except for neighboring campers that were making noise until midnight.
Came here on a spontaneous stop on a road trip through NM. Showed up at 2pm on Tuesday and they still had 4 Backcountry camping permits available, $1.50 per person with annual pass.
We were car camping and not prepared for backpacking but the hike in was < 1 mile so it was easy enough to just hike in with bags. Wasn't too hot in late May but was extremely windy.
One of the prettiest sunsets we've ever seen.
Camped for a night because I heard the sand was beautiful. It was but the hiking was sub par there was one trail about 5 miles that was fun because of the sand but just doesn’t have much challenge and no summit type view. Beautiful plants, little animals and sand.
I arrived at Franklin Mountain SP about 4:30. I was told the park was about to close. I asked if camping was available and was told, " yes but I'll be leaving soon". No mention of locking the gate or no water.
I went in and found an almost empty CG. I think there was only one tent located a couple of hundred yards away. I went to the restroom and found no water. Checked another and found the same. I then went back to the entrance kiosk expecting to find water there, but it was empty and closed. I decided to stay since I had about 2 quarts with me.
Great sunset. I heard traffic noise from the highway most of the night, but overall it way a plesant stay. I woke up early to the sound of sirens, mst have been a crash on the highway. Made coffee and loaded up the bike to go into El Paso for breakfast. I then found the entrance gate closed and locked. It would have been a miserable night had I been without water.
The desert was pretty hot and I was wishing I'd set up camp near Cloudcroft. After passing white sands I saw the sign and thought, "check it out". Glad I did. Nice windy road climbs up to a great campground with plenty of trees and views of the peaks above and desert below.
There is no water in the CG, but its available at the entrance, so take a gallon or two in with you.
I stayed on a Saturday night and it was loud. Kids and dogs.
We did the backcountry hike and the spots are nice and secluded, while not too too far from the parking. It was summer so it was super hot until sundown, but the night sky is one of the prettiest I've ever seen. We also had some fun sledding down the dunes (as evidenced in the video)!
I will say a trip here is worth more than one trip! For this reason I found myself back in the midst of the soft white sands in March of this year. Taking a few notes from my last trip I planned a bit smarter for the journey.
Packed a face shield - This is imperative to keep your mouth free of loose winds when the weather quickly decides it wants to kick up a big mess.
Remembered a hat - Being out in the white sands you can quickly forget how damaging the sun can be. The sand remains cool and though you are in the midst of all the reflections of light and and you often can forget that your head is unprotected. I made sure to bring a cap to wear for the extended stay of anything over 20 minutes.
Used a shade shelter/sand shelter - When camping sure you remember this, but when playing you should also have it on hand. Many come out recreationally and find themselves into midst of a harsh wind storm which can create white out sand conditions. This can be scary, dangerous and overall just very frantic. Winds often will reach these conditions making it impossible to drive or hike, so a quick shade shelter/ sand shelter is the way to go for protection.
Lots of water -Over the past few years I have learned more and more how continually improve my campaign experience at various locations. With no two locations being the same it can be a learning curve to say the least. Because of the location I improved my packing for this trip adding additional water to my gear. While you might not realize your body is in need, all the trudging around in the dunes can quickly dehydrate you without you realizing it.
Checked the weather- While you can't predict the sand you can get a good handle on when it for sure will not be manageable. Usually in Alamogordo the news will share if there is a wind advisory. If you ever see one of these, just DON'T try to get out on the sands. From the first trip here to the second I will say there is a massive difference between a gentle breeze and a lightly windy day. Now just imagine straight line winds… NOPE!!
Checklist aside, the White Sands is a place you need to remember to educate yourself about before taking on one of the backcountry sites. I advise visiting the visitor center and taking in the entire experience to emerge yourself in the surroundings, the why, the what and the how. Then make sure you talk to a ranger before attempting any kind of camping in this location. Unlike a mountain camp or even a regular desert camp, this location comes with its own unique set of rules that you will want to be aware of.
This is an awe inspiring and unique camping experience. It is not a place to relax all day, make a fire, and hang out camping experience. White Sands IS a place to experience at night, preferably during a full moon.
There are 10 spots and the office opens at 9:00, be EARLY (I always get there an hour before).
Once you get your spot do some local stuff, Alamogordo is 20 minutes to the east, not great but you can also head up to Cloudcroft which is nice and has great hiking. Or you can go to Los Cruces which is nicer and bigger and also has some hiking in the Organ MNTs.
Head back to camp 2 hours before sundown. You’ll have to hike about a mile in sand to your campsite. Set up and prepare to enjoy the night!
I’m usually set up an hour before sunset and then stay up till midnight or so. It’s amazing and no words or pictures can really do it justice (at night especially). In the morning it gets hot pretty quick so be prepared to leave early.
Enjoy, I’ve hit this every 6 months, three times in a row and it never gets old!
I had a short stay (one night) but the views were awesome. At night I could see so many stars, and in the morning I could see all the way across the Tularosa Basin to Lincoln National Forest, probably 80 miles away! The sunrise was awesome! I could easily see White Sands National Monument in the distance.
The camp host was fantastic. I got here after hours (not knowing that they lock the gates at 9 pm) and she let me in and gave me a space to crash. I was only there for a few hours and it was easy to get in and out without waking everyone else up.
It is hard to get an electric site here with a reservation. Boondock for a day and quickly move over to an unreserved electric site once someone leaves. Fun hiking on a volcanic mountain. You can find geodes and thunder eggs. Clean bathrooms. Excellent wifi (verizon and at&t) with booster. No limit on # of pets. Close to Mexico for dental care and shopping.
Spent one night at Las Cruces KOA. This place is on the side of a mountain, but they did a good job of leveling spaces. Like most KOAs, this place loves gravel, and placing sites close together. But, the shower house was clean and there was plenty of hot water. They had a nice dog park for exercising our travel companions. The office guy was very friendly and helpful with directions.
Out in the West Texas Town of El Paso…This has got to be the most “minimalist” camping location I’ve ever been to. The “camping” is on one, large, open, gravel parking lot! There are no trees, no landscaping, nothing! The office for check in is a modular building, the shower and bathroom is a mobile home. There is a dog park! And the sunrise over the Organ Mountains was nice. Plus, it’s only a few miles from Rose’s Cantina !
We stayed in a yurt. It was really cool. It was in the 40s outside and was warm inside.
You have a beautiful view of Hueco Tanks, which you could almost walk to, as well as the Franklin Mountains.
The owners of the property are very nice and accommodating. Would stay again!
We reserved our stay on Airbnb.
This is a must see! It's hard to explain the beauty of White Sands in words, but it's definitely worth the stop and 1-2 mile hike in to a primitive spot. Primitive is the only option here and be sure to check weather patterns for the times you go. I went in early spring and the wind was pretty ferocious - luckily I was prepared and had all the necessary gear. It's a tough hike in depending on your pack and the sites are as bare as it gets, but the scenery makes this place what it is. Beautiful.
just off trans mountain so can be pretty busy. be sure to bring cash to pay for your visit.. and bring lots of water! it’s hot in El Paso and easy to get dehydrated.
mammoth rock hike has great views of The Valley below.
also great to take photos at!
Clean laundry/showers the showers are in with laundry it’s like two bathrooms in a Mobile home so it’s shower toilet and sink. Very flat lots reasonable lot sizes. Close to shopping. Water pressure is crazy so you won’t want to stay hooked up to city water. Dog park was a nice size and the park for kids is right next to it. It’s backed onto public lands and we did see some off road vehicles. Absolutely no shade other than a small area in the dog run. Also saw some beware of snake signs on the edge lots perimeter lots.
Most people do not plan a vacation stop just to check out a Military Base, in fact usually that isn't something that is an option, but when I found out that the base located nearby is actually the test site for many of the warheads used today and there was in fact a museum here, I had to at least try to see it.
I found that Aguirre Spring Campground was literally at the footprint of the road to the base so it was perfect.
When I arrived I had no idea that the mountains would be so breathtaking. It is strange how they jut up different than anything else in the area and for this perfect setting for watching the world around you. The view of the area itself was worth more than the $7 fee for camping here.
So what about the facility though? I mean what can you get for $7?
Well it is pretty basic, a pit toilet, picnic tables and fire rings. It is also pretty small but spaces seem to feel comfortable despite the size of the facility probably because you don't have a lot of neighbors.
While you can see the traffic for the Holloman Air Force Base it doesn't fully allow you to see the base itself and instead you have to take the drive down the road which makes you realize that while camping here you are in fact monitored well. They have lots of signs telling you to stay on roadways because of active sites and also that there are drones monitoring the area. So while this might seem remote you are in fact probably at one of the more supervised campsites in the nation and just don't realize it.
We took a risk in trying to go see the museum, not knowing what exactly that would entail and it wasn't to hard actually, that is if you don't mind having a DOD check at the gate which takes about 15 minutes on a good day. Of course not having anything to worry about on our records we quickly passed and were allowed a permit to the museum which is on base, you do have to carry your credentials with you as you walk around however. We did see someone get turned away while we were there so not everyone is allowed access.
- If you are wanting to stay here and see the base make sure you have a valid license otherwise you will be immediately turned away from the base.
- When camping here there is a strict nightly curfew for closure which has been implemented and they do close the gate so make sure you are set before 6 p.m. I am not fully sure why this exists but I am sure it has something to do with the base nearby.
Backcountry camping can be interesting anywhere you go, but what about in a place where you will have your footsteps covered within hours of you entering and dunes constantly shifting to reveal new beauty?
If you are up for a challenge The White Sands National Monument is the place for just that. Of course this is a hike in camping experience so you can park your car along one of the numerous pull offs in the area and hike to your destination of choice. This trek will require a permit which is $3 for adults in addition to any entrance fees which are charged, of course if you have your park pass you can avoid an entrance fee.
You will need ALL your gear for this one and take into consideration a lower profile tent because winds will whip at taller ones. The official definition of backcountry camping here is a hike of a mile so that means you will need at least 1 liter of water per mile you are hiking and enough to sustain your needs during the evening as well.
I did notice that using my small camp burner was a little difficult here because of the wind. Though I was able to get it to work finally I had to turn it to the highest level and really make an effort to shelter it while it worked.
I really wanted to get some awesome night sky photography because of the brilliant sky you see above at this location, however I noticed that I had not come fully prepared to do so and so it turned into more of a quiet night than a night of activities.
I was very excited about this trip and I learned that for days and days I would continue to pull sand out of everything I owned, so it was one of those trips that keeps reminding you of your journey to say the least.
- Bring a facemask or bandana to cover your mouth when you are out here otherwise you will be miserable and your lips will be very chapped.
- Also try sledding while here, the white sands are slick like ice and almost have the same effect as snow sledding which can be very fun. If you choose to do this you can purchase a disk or rent one in the Visitor Center.
Franklin Mountain state park is a beautiful painted scene in El Paso Tx. some of the camp sites are drive in, but most are hike in (they aren’t very far either .2-.5 mi). The summers are extremely hot. during monsoon season the trails can be sketchy with all the water running down. The spring has poppies covering the mountain.
After about 308 miles on the road today we were tired. The desolate stretches of highway between Tucson and Las Cruces had paid their toll and we were very happy to at last see the Las Cruces KOA Campground sign.
We had called in advance and were insured that tent camping was not yet full and we could come and make ourselves at home. Unknowing if we would make it before the office closed between 6:00 and 6:30 we were delighted to see the friendly face of Anne when we arrived.
She assisted us with not only a great campsite but also providing a map with items potentially of interest and some knowledge about our next days activity.
Our campsite was near the bathrooms and on a grassy area with plenty of shade. We were provided with a grill station and picnic table as well as water at the site and parking just in front along the slight fence line.
The campground facilities provided a half basketball court and play area as well as a gazebo for looking at the views during sunset. Those views were amazing overlooking the city and into the mountains as the night fell from the distance.
We found an outdoor grill area upon arrival which offered a little more relief from winds than our campsite itself so were able to use our camp stove there and also have a nice area to sit and eat peacefully.
There was a pool and it looked very inviting, however it was not open until mid month, a sad negative to us upon arrival.
I did take notice for those rv camping they also provided full hook ups and cable. To all campers wifi was available as well.
Overall this campground gets 5 of 5 Bunnies. The security of code locked facilities as well as comfortable facilities made for a pleasant experience in Las Cruces as a pass through city on our venture.