Getting There and Getting Around New Mexico

Hike-in camping at White Sands is allowed with a permit. Credit: Mary Caperton Morton Hike-in camping at White Sands is allowed with a permit. Credit: Mary Caperton Morton

White Sands National Monument is located in south-central New Mexico. To get there, fly into Albuquerque or El Paso, rent a car and drive 360 kilometers south on Interstate 25 from Albuquerque or 160 kilometers north from El Paso. The closest town to White Sands is Las Cruces, which has plenty of hotels, restaurants and attractions, including a natural history museum and a historic Spanish village. 

Hike-in camping is allowed within White Sands National Monument, but you must get a backcountry permit ($3 per person) at the Heart of the Sands Nature Center and trek into one of 10 backcountry campsites. No reservations are accepted. The closest sites are less than a kilometer from the parking area, but traveling on the dunes with a backpack can be tiring. If you can carry your gear (and plenty of water!) into the dunes for the night, you will be rewarded with an unparalleled sunset, solitude and stars. Car and RV camping is also available outside the park at Aguirre Spring Recreation Area, Oliver Lee Memorial State Park and in the Lincoln National Forest. 

Mary Caperton Morton

Mary Caperton Morton

Morton (https://theblondecoyote.com/) is a freelance science and travel writer based in Big Sky, Mont., and an EARTH roving correspondent.  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 06:00