Tuesday, April 23, 2013

White Sands

Last weekend we went down to El Paso to visit my parents.  We have been wanting to take Jack to White Sands National Monument, and figured this would be a good time of year to go. So on Saturday morning, we all drove from El Paso over to White Sands, which is about an hour and a half to two hour drive.

When we lived in Las Cruces, we went to White Sands often since it was just about 45 minutes away. It is such an incredible place to visit, unlike anywhere else on earth. Even if you have visited other sand dunes, none compare to these. We knew Jack would love going too given the fact that it's like a gigantic sandbox. Plus my parents had never been.

We all had a wonderful time. Jack loved sledding down the dunes, digging in the sand, and running around. My parents couldn't believe how soft and white the sand was. We played in the dunes and had a wonderful picnic. When we left Jack kept saying, "More White Sands, more White Sands."

If you're planning on visiting White Sands, here are a few things I recommend:
  • Check the National Parks website ahead of time for hours, directions, pricing, and other details. 
  • Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats for everyone in your group. The white sand reflects the  bright New Mexico sun, so if you do not have sunglasses, you will be miserable.
  • Check the forecast before you go. Spring afternoons can be very windy. I went one time on a windy day and it was terrible with sand blowing everywhere. Also, summer can be very hot, so go very early in the day if you are planning a summer trip. 
  • Bring plenty of water and if you would like to have a picnic, there are lots of picnic tables if you drive all the way to the end of the park road. There are drinks and snacks available at the visitor's center, but you will pay a little more for them.
  • If you have a sled bring it or borrow one from a friend. You can buy them at the visitor's center, but they are a little pricey.
  • If you have little ones, bring shovels, buckets, and other sand toys for them.

There is no camping at the park, but up the highway in the Organ Mountains is Aguirre Spring Campground. If you would like to stay in a hotel, Alamogordo is the nearest town, and Las Cruces is close as well. There are more hotel and restaurant options in Las Cruces plus Old Mesilla, which is a nice historic plaza with shops, restaurants, and other fun spots. Think a smaller version of Santa Fe. You could also go a little further to El Paso which is a much larger city.

If you have not been to White Sands, consider it the next time you are in the southwest. It's a beautiful spot and a wonderful place to make fun memories with your family and friends (not to mention, it's budget-friendly too)!

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