White Sands National Park

White Sands National Park

Shaka Guide's White Sands National Park Itinerary


White Sand National Park driving tour: A scenic route through the park showcasing its stunning white sand dunes and natural beauty.

Explore the largest gypsum sand dunes in the world at White Sands National Park.

While exploring this unique ecosystem, you can hike an endless sea of sand, look for wildlife in what appears to be an inhospitable desert, and even try your hand at sledding!

Shaka Guide will narrate the long and astounding history of humans in the Tularosa Basin, as well as introduce the incredible plants and animals that have adapted to live in such a weird landscape.

You'll also learn the impressive story of how these dunes formed. So join us for this small, but mighty national park.

White Sands National Park Itinerary

The park has only one, short road that heads out into the dunes and then loops around back towards the front. So this one's a quick and easy national park to check off the list!

To help everybody out, we have four different starting points that together capture anybody heading toward White Sands.

But no matter which entrance you start from, you'll hear the same content, and experience the park in the same order, following the itinerary below.

1. White Sands Visitor Center

A sign stands in front of a large building at White Sands National Park.Shutterstock Image

  • Duration: 20 minutes

The visitor center is part of the White Sands Historic District, a group of adobe buildings constructed during the Great Depression that adheres to the Pueblo Revival style.

At the visitor center, you can visit the small museum, watch the park film, browse through two gift shops, and purchase sleds if you'd like to try sledding on the sand dunes.

2. Playa Trail

A person strolling on a boardwalk, surrounded by sandy terrain at White Sands National Park.Image from Flickr by 

  • Duration: 15 minutes

This short and very easy trail takes you to a dried lakebed or a playa. Informational panels interpret what the playa looks like, and what kinds of animals it attracts, throughout the seasons. The trail is about a half-mile round trip and flat.

3. Dune Life Nature Trail

A sandy path amidst White Sands National Park.Shutterstock Image

  • Duration: 1 hour

This one-mile loop takes about an hour and goes up and down the dunes through the interdunal area, or the transition zone between the desert scrubland and the sand dunes.

Because of a few steep climbs and the general difficulty of hiking through sand, this hike is rated as moderate. But the reward is walking through a unique ecosystem.

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4. Interdune Boardwalk

A wooden walkway winding through the picturesque White Sands National Park.Shutterstock Image

  • Duration: 20 minutes

This is a must-stop for everyone. The Interdune Boardwalk is an ADA-accessible elevated path through the interdunal area.

If you're not able to try the Dune Life Nature Trail, this one's a great alternative. A couple of covered seating areas offer shade on this half-mile round-trip walk.

5. Backcountry Camping Trailhead

A stunning landscape of white sand dunes stretching as far as the eye can see.Shutterstock Image

  • Duration: 1.5 hours

White Sands features a backcountry camping area, with remote campsites out among the dunes. However, the trail to the campsites is open to anyone.

It's a two-mile loop and rated moderate because of the difficulty of hiking up and down sand dunes.

However, this trail is a good alternative if you want to experience being out in the dunes without attempting the more difficult Alkali Flat trail.

6. Alkali Flat Trailhead

A serene blue sky over White Sands National Park, creating a picturesque landscape.Shutterstock Image

  • Duration: 3 hours

Alkali Flat is the dried lakebed of the ancient Lake Otero, where the white sands are formed.

To reach the edge of the flat, hike this five-mile round-trip hike through the sand dunes.

Because of the length, and the continued challenge of hiking through sand, this is rated as a difficult hike.


Most folks only spend a couple of hours in the park. And if you're not intending on doing any of the longer hikes, or spending a lot of time sledding, that's probably all you'll need.

But we do recommend trying to catch a sunset while you're here. That's when the colors of the sand, and the whole Tularosa Basin, are just spellbinding.

Whatever you choose to do, we're glad you've chosen Shaka Guide to lead you through White Sands National Park.

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A stunning landscape of white sand dunes stretching as far as the eye can see.

Ready to take the tour? Check out Shaka Guide's White Sands National Park Tour!

We hope that we’ve given you all the information you need to make the most of your day. Your vacation is extremely important to us so if you have any questions feel free to reach out at aloha@shakaguide.com.

For more detailed information to help you plan, check out our White Sands National Park Know Before You Go article.

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