Las Cruces and White Sands, New Mexico

If there’s a stranger state in America than New Mexico I haven’t found it yet. The state has a number of out of this world characteristics from aliens in Roswell to these beautiful white sand dunes near Las Cruces. Of all the places that I visited in America very few captured my imagination quite like White Sands. The park is absolutely stunning, especially around sunset. Another great thing about white sands is that there simply aren’t a whole lot of tourists around either. Yes, the American tourist crowd knows about White Sands quite well. However, the fact that it’s a fair distance from any major city means that the international tourist still hasn’t been clued it. Personally, I don’t think you should miss this on your American adventure.

White Sands, New Mexico

Time Needed: 1-2 days
Backpacker’s Budget: 70USD

Things to do

Obviously the number one thing to do is visiting the national park, but there are actually a couple other things that you can do in town.  Most people just spend one day and then get out of town, but staying a couple nights wouldn’t leave you bored.

  • White Sands National Monument: If you don’t have a car, there are a couple of companies that run tours out to the park from Las Cruces, but they only operate in the Summer.  The only other option is to rent a car, which if you’re over 25 isn’t all that expensive in the area.  Try to be at the park for sunset.  Also, there is a free sunset walk through the dunes nightly that you can ask the park warden about.
  • Hot Air Balloon Ride: There is stunning scenery in Las Cruces as well as the park.  From town you can take part in a balloon ride which will grant you amazing overhead views of the region.  For best results, head up at sunrise or sunset.
  • White Sands Missile Range: Yup, you’re in America.  This is one of the oldest army facilities in America, the museum is worth a visit as is the NASA center.

Where to Stay

Most people choose to stay in Las Cruces since it is the biggest center in the region.  However, you can also camp in the Lincoln forest if you’re around the right time of year.  You can also stay in Alamogordo which is much closer to the National Monument despite what google maps tells you.  There are no hostels in the area.

  • Motel 6 Las Cruces: I stayed here.  When travelling through America I almost always stay at Motel 6 when there is no hostel or camping available.  The Motel 6 has free wifi, decent rooms and the price is right at only about $40 a night.
  • Motel 6 Alamogordo: This is your closest motel to White Sands National Monument.
  • Lincoln National Forest Camping: I wasn’t around in the right season, but if you’re looking to camp there’s a couple sites here.

Getting out of Town

If you’re driving, Las Cruces is connected to Roswell, Phoenix and West Texas.  There is a greyhoud terminal here as well if you’re hoping to catch the bus to your next destination.  There are also a couple shuttle companies that run people down into Mexico.  I would advise you to check on the situation across the border before going as things were pretty tense while I was there.

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