Camping under the stars with majestic wave-like dunes of gypsum creating contrasts and leading lines like no where else in the world.

Spend a night under the stars in one of the more beautiful places to take it all in. White Sands National Monument offers camping to “backpackers” who have the ability to hike out into the dunes to set up camp for an overnight adventure. The closest site will be .75 miles away while the farthest site is 1.1 miles away.

There are ten “camping sites” available on a first come first serve basis. They cannot do advanced reservations because of the possibility of the park closing due to missile tests at the adjacent military base. Permits are available until one hour before sunset and to obtain a permit you simply need to go to the front desk in the ranger station and ask!

Camping gives you the best way to photograph the dunes as well. Depending on the time of year you cannot catch the entire sunrise or sunset because of the park hours; if you camp you no longer have to worry about getting back to the gate before the ranger locks you in the for night. (They do not lock you in but they will call search and rescue if you are not back in time.)

Tips:
  • There is no water or toilet facility when you hike out onto the dunes, so make sure you fill up at the ranger station before you head out.
  • Fires are not permitted on the dunes, but self contained camping stoves are!
  • You need to follow the red markers that lead out deep into the dunes. Keep in mind that there are multiple backpacker trails and you need to follow the symbol on the trailhead you started at.

Pack List

  • Tent, warm sleeping bag (you are in a desert and temperatures drop drastically at night), and camping gear
  • DSLR with a 24-70mm lens and a 70-200mm lens
  • Warm cloths (thermals) if going during winter months
  • Enough water for 24 hours incase you get lost
  • Food
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
Show More
RT Distance 1.5 Miles
Elevation Gain 40 Feet
Activities Camping, Photography, Hiking, Fitness
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Picnic Area
Scenic

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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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