Spend a night under the twinkling stars of the vast New Mexico skies, surrounded by the world's largest gypsum dunefield. White Sands National Monument offers backpackers the opportunity to enjoy a night camping on the white sands and listening to the nocturnal activities of the animals that make their home here in this unique ecosystem.
The Backcountry Loop is used most frequently by backpackers who want to spend a night under the stars in the dunes. However, it is also open to visitors that want a shorter hike through the heart of the dunes than the Alkali Flat trail. The trail is approximately 2.2 miles (3.5 km) round-trip and is a moderately strenuous hike up and down over the dunes. The average completion time for the trail is roughly 1.5 hours.
There are ten primitive backcountry camping sites available on a first-come-first-served basis. Because of the possibility of closure due to missile testing on the adjacent missile range, we cannot allow advanced reservations.
I won’t even say anything about the park, it’s something you need to experience and you’ll be convinced just by looking at any photos. This isn’t a campground but backcountry camping with a hike to the site of under a mile, so it’s perfect for backpacking trips for families. BUT walking on sand is a lot more tiring than you think it’ll be and water is heavier than you think it’s be!! You need to get a permit, which is very cheap, and forces you check in with the rangers about weather and whatever other issues there may be. Read up about leave no trace and specific rules for the sand dunes. …the weird thing is that there could be missles on the sand sometimes!! So if you see something weird stay away and tell the rangers asap!! This will be one of the best camping trips you’ll ever be on, no contest. ENJOY!
If you need any amenities when you camp this is definitely NOT the camp for you. But, if all you need is the ground, the stars, and yourself, this is DEFINITELY the site for you.
With zero hookups, no fires, no water access, there isn't not a lot of extras that come with these campsites. Regardless, camping in the White Sands National Monument, is one of the more memorable backcountry sites I've been to. The hike from the parking lot is barely 2 miles, but when you get to the site there is just seas of white surrounding you. And if at all possible try to camp here during a full moon. The light reflecting off the sands is a different experience.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I occasionally get products to test, and on this trip I was able to test out sandals from Tredagain. I am always skeptical of the "flip-flop" style sandals. In my experience, they fail after only a few months of wearing them, either by the connection between your toes breaking or the sole of the sandal splitting.
So, when I ordered these sandals I was already counting down the days until they broke.
Well, I'm still counting. When I got the sandals out of the box I was extremely impressed at the durability of the soles.
They were made for being put through the wringer.
During our road trip, my wife and I both had pairs and probably wore them 80% of the trip. We love these sandals. They were definitely #1 of the products were able to test out during our road trip.
Now, being flip-flop style sandals makes it hard to wear them in situations when you will be climbing or in need of footwear that stays secured to your feet. Other than that, they have become my go to sandal.
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If you want a peaceful night, do a backcountry trip at White Sands. It is the most quiet night you'll have (from humans!). We did hear a coyote or two.
BRING ALL YOUR WATER! This is primitive backcountry camping. I believe we picked up a free permit at the visitor center.
I love camping where you aren't by people. This place is great. The loop is a little over 2 miles up and down the dunes and there are a few designated camp sites around the loop. This place is among my favorites because its just you and nature (and the occasional creature sneaking around in the night). The white sand looks like snow but it was hot when I went so that was a new experience for me. A bit of a sensation confusion but oh so worth it.
I came back my second time to show my mom and brother what a spectacular place this was-- and they agreed! We hiked our stuff in and ignored the threats of the storm brewing. The wind whipped so hard it broke our tent!! Love this spot and this campground- but definetly will respect the the weather next time!
I have been back to this Campground twice because of the fun we had here. You get the whole desert to yourself for the night for playing in this giant sandbox. No toilets, no showers, no fires. But the best night ever. My dog would not let me go to bed- she wanted to keep playing- and with the moonlight reflecting off the sand, it almost felt like daytime! Catching the sunrise is worth the early wake up. This is definetly one of my favorite campsites.
White Sands National Park primitive campsites are truly for those who understand how to camp and be completely self sufficient. There are no amenities and you must hike everything in and back out. Absolutely no trash should be left out there. I recommend this campsite during the spring or fall because temperatures are so brutal during the day during the summer months. It's about a mile hike to get out to the primitive area with zero shade. Even though you aren't climbing a mountain, hiking in sand poses its own challenges so be prepared to work those leg muscles. If you are up for the challenge, you will be rewarded with a beautiful, sandy sea of white for miles and miles. Unlike anything you have ever seen.
The sand is beautiful and the sites are on a first-come, first-served basis and there are only ten of them.
I love this campground for the primitiveness of it all! I was the only one fore what felt like miles. It was super easy to get a permit at the office and find a way into the dunes. The sand felt like heaven and the stars were incredible!.
If you do one thing in New Mexico--and it would be a shame if you only did one thing, but I digress--full moon camping at White Sands National Monument might be it. As the sun sets on the Sacramento Mountains, the valley is lit orange and red as the dunes fade from white through amazing hues of tan. The full moon then lights the sand bright white and the Organ Mountains to the west loom as black teeth in the west. Sunrise repeats the process.
Camping at White Sands takes a small amount of planning, but is well worth it. You must claim a spot the of your arrival and pay a small fee. This is done at the visitor's center which has a great museum. My advise is to get there early to get a spot then head up to Cloudcroft to the east for a cooler hike in the pines then return an hour or two before sunset.
Once at the trailhead, the camp sites are 1/4 to 1/2 mile of hiking away. This is sand hiking, so plan on a slower pace. The trail is a lollipop marked by posts every couple hundred yards with camp sites in the valleys between camp sites. No campfires are allowed, and you must camp by the post with your campsite number. You must bring all of your water (plan on at least one gallon per person per day) and pack out all of your waste. The trailhead has dumpsters and pit toilets.
Bring a camera and tripod for amazing moon shots and a decent bag because it can get cold at night.