Hey y’all happy Friday! It’s always a struggle to get back into routine after a long weekend but we made it!! This past Labor Day weekend my friends and I took a road trip to White Sands National Park in New Mexico and some of you asked me to share our itinerary so here it is! Keep reading for all the deets on our road trip to White Sands National Park!
How to get there
Texas is GINORMOUS. It takes around 9 hours to drive out of Texas from Austin to New Mexico and around 11 hours to drive from Houston. We left Austin around 9:30AM, made fast food and restroom stops along the way and reached Las Cruces, New Mexico around 7PM. We drove through Fredericksburg and then the whole stretch after that there was absolutely nothing around until you reach El Paso, Texas. A full day of sitting in the car just to get out of Texas!
Where to Stay
We stayed in an airbnb in Las Cruces, New Mexico which is 45 minutes from White Sands National Park. It’s one of the closest towns to the park with lots of food options and stores including a Starbucks and a Target!! You could also stay in a very small town called Alamogordo that offers many hotel options.
What we did in 24 hours
We reached New Mexico around 7pm on a Friday and there was no time for us to drive to White Sands National Park before the park closed. So we woke up early on Saturday and reached the park around 7:30 am (it opens at 7am). Just to note, there is a border control station at the entrance of the park. The officer will stop you and ask you some screening questions. We were asked where we were coming from and our nationalities – make sure to keep your documentation handy just incase they do ask to see it. We got lucky and got by with our word *phew*.
Once you take a turn into the park you will see the visitor center which is open from 9am to 5pm. You don’t need to purchase your parking pass from the visitor center, but you will need to buy wax and sleds from there if you didn’t bring your own. Once you pass the visitor center you will reach the entrance where you can purchase a $25 day pass (1 per car) and they will give you a map of the park. The park timings are listed here on the White Sands National Park website.
We decided to do the Alkali Flat Trail which is close to 5 miles and took about 3 hours. We read that it was the longest, hardest trail and it was definitely not flat like the name suggests LOL. I’m not proud to admit that I was riding the struggle bus during this particular trail haha. It was my time of the month and the heat towards the end of the trail was killer! There is absolutely no shade so it’s recommended to do this trail before it gets too hot during the day. The earlier you get there the better. Throughout the trail you will be walking through the sand dunes and it loops around back to the parking lot where you begin. I would suggest taking the pictures within the first 45 minutes of this trail. You will find the best views of the sand dunes here. Also, this trail was very empty and we ran into a total of 4 people and a dog. There are some parts of the trail that require you to climb in the sand up a steep hill. As long as you are wearing comfortable shoes and clothes it shouldn’t be too difficult!
Once we completed the trail around 11ish, we attempted to go dune sledding with the boards we proactively bought from Amazon. Turns out that these boards were not as deep as they should have been which led to this #fail and unsuccessful attempt. Thankfully the visitor center sells sleds for $20 and they will also buy the sleds back for $5 (if you are able to get there by 5pm before the visitor center closes). Don’t forget to purchase some wax to rub on your sleds make it easier to slide!
By the time we purchased the right sleds it was already noon and hot AF! We decided to drive back to our airbnb, eat, shower and relax before we headed back to the park to go dune sledding and catch the sunset. The sun set around 7:20ish but we didnt realize how fast it would all go down (literally) LOL. Regardless, we were able to witness an amazing sunset, take lots of pictures, ride our sleds at dusk and lie on top of our car and star gaze. The sky was so clear and my friends even saw a shooting star!!
The park closes at 9pm and around 8:45 pm and a park ranger will drive around announcing that the gates will close. To be honest, one day was more than enough for us to take in the views and enjoy the white sands. The only thing I wish we had a little more time doing was dune sledding because it was so FUN. Hopefully when you visit you learned a thing or two from our experience! Feel free to message me if you have any questions. I’ve also linked my outfits at the bottom of this post (except for my blue skirt, it’s a Zara find from my 25th birthday)! Happy weekend friends, stay safe! xo