“A short trail to an interesting desert feature.”
— Brian Smith
Lake · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Visitor passes are $5 for adults and are valid for six days. Except for December 25, White Sands is open year round. Park hours vary throughout the year, generally from 8 am to 6 pm. Dunes Drive is occasionally closed due to missile testing at the adjacent range, blocking access to the trail. Weather closures occur on occasion as well. Hours and closure information can be found here.
This is a quick, level trail that leads to a little playa. A playa is a slight dip or low-lying zone that fills briefly with rainwater after storms. For the majority of the year, this playa is a dry lakebed. Playas are common in desert climates.
Lake Lucero, also a playa, is considered the modern source of the sand in the park. It is much larger than the playa you'll see here as it covers approximately 10 square miles total. Lake Lucero is located 15.5 miles southwest of here and the only access is across the White Sands Missile Range, making it inaccessible to the public except on monthly ranger-led tours. You can get a tour schedule at the Visitor Center.
Flora & Fauna
White Sands National Monument experiences especially harsh environmental conditions, even for the desert. That hasnâ€™t stopped many species of animal from adapting, surviving, and even flourishing here. If you look hard enough, you may see tracks in the sand to remind yourself of their presence. And while it may be difficult to believe, there are more than 800 types of animals that call white sands their home.
Plants play a crucial function in the ecosystems of White Sands National Monument, stabilizing the windward sides of the dunes and providing both shelter and food for fauna.