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One of our favorite road trips was to White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. The photos we had seen looked stunning, and sledding down sand dunes sounded like a blast! We couldn’t wait to get there. The sand dunes held up to our expectations and we learned several things along the way. Below is a list of Things To Know Before Visiting White Sands National Monument.
When To Visit White Sands National Monument
Our travels are limited to when the kids are out of school. Since White Sands National Monument is located in New Mexico, we decided to make the road-trip for our summer vacation. We knew the desert can get extremely hot during the day so we scheduled our visit to the White Sands National Monument early in the morning and later in the evening, avoiding the middle of the day.
If you are able to visit the sand dunes during cooler months we highly recommend it. Otherwise, plan to arrive when they open in the morning and leave by lunchtime. The hottest time of the day is between noon and 4pm.
We went back in the evening to go on the free sunset tour. It was beautiful! You will be surprised by how quickly the sand can go from scolding hot to cool to the touch, all in one day. It’s quite amazing.
What to Pack for White Sands National Monument
- Wet Wipes and Towel
- Plastic Sack for Dirty Clothing and/or Shoes
- Bottled Water – plenty of it!
- Medicine for Allergies, in case symptoms strike
- Bandana to Cover Face
- Slip-on Shoes
Sledding the White Sands
When you enter the park there is a gift shop that sells sleds. You can purchase a new or slightly used one. Upon returning the sled you receive money back (and it is pretty inexpensive, to begin with). We played with our sleds for two days before returning. I do recommend you purchase the wax or bring your own. After an hour of people walking on the sand dunes, you do not sled as easily as you would hope.
This is where your sunglasses will come in handy. The sand gets everywhere! It will fly up in your face while you are sledding down. Protect your eyes from the sun and sand. Also, remember to apply plenty of sunscreen, this is the desert after all!
Prepare for Allergies
Do your kids suffer from allergies? I feel sorry for Noah, he got the short end of the stick from both his father and me. We deal with seasonal allergies, and now Noah suffers more than we do! On any given day he deals with itchy and runny nose. When we travel this can be a challenge.
White Sands National Monument is in the middle of the desert where it may be dry, but is also very windy at times. All of the seasonal allergies you are used to dealing with are slightly amplified. Since it is so hot and dry, our bodies even got a break from our typical Texas humidity!
Instead of Noah being miserable the entire vacation, we came prepared. Thanks to the Smart Allergy Mom Toolkit® by the makers of Claritin® we were able to relieve his allergies and make sure he had a great vacation. Children’s Claritin® provides 24 hour relief of runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, and itchy nose or throat. As the #1 Pediatrician Recommended Non-Drowsy Oral Allergy Brand, Children’s Claritin® was our first choice. Children’s Claritin® is suitable for children ages 2+, and is available for easy pickup on your next Walmart run.
Watch the Weather
The White Sands National Monument is right on the other side of mountains, smack dab in the middle of the desert. It can go from sunshine to sandstorm in minutes. We had a great time on the sunset tour, but as the sun went down, the wind picked up. This is where the bandana comes in handy. We did not make it to our car before being cover in sand from head to toe and it was blowing everywhere!
With all the wind there is no surprise we were fighting allergies. The footprints on the sand dunes are covered from the wind each evening with fresh sand so when you visit first thing in the morning you’ll see the dunes nice and smooth. It really is a beautiful place.
End Your Trip Successfully
Wear slip-on shoes so you can easily dump the sand. Trust me, you do not want to wear your tennis shoes and socks to the White Sands National Monument if you plan to walk on the dunes. You will be pouring out sand for days. Bring a plastic bag to toss any sand toys or dirty clothing in it, otherwise you’ll have sand all over your vehicle. Wet wipes and towels are a must!
Take lots of photos and have fun!
Bonus tip: face your back against the wind when taking photos to prevent getting sand in your camera lens!