Are you wondering about the best time to go to White Sands National Park in New Mexico? Then I got you covered!
The beautiful white desert is an amazing spot to visit, and something that needs to be on everyone’s bucket list.
There is a lot to consider when picking a good time of the year to visit the White Sands. For example, temperatures in summer can be searing hot, making a visit unpleasant.
Picking the perfect time for your visit can make or break your vacation. We live near Holloman Air Force Base, close to the White Sands National Park – and I am here to help you plan your vacation to the beautiful park!
Find below a detailed breakdown of the temperatures year round near Alamogordo, the festivals and activities and many other things to consider.
Let’s get right to it.
General Info About the White Sands National Park
The White Sands National Park is a beautiful natural wonder located in the state of New Mexico, USA. It is famous for its stunning gypsum sand dunes.
They create a truly mesmerizing landscape unlike any other. The closest city to the White Sands National Park is Alamogordo, NM. Together with the Carlsbad Caverns it is one of the truly magnificent National Parks in New Mexico.
The park covers around 275 square miles (710 square kilometers). It is the largest gypsum dune field in the world.
Visitors to White Sands National Park can enjoy many cool outdoor activities. The white sand dunes provide an ideal setting for hiking, picnicking, and nature photography. Especially children love “sledding” down the dunes.
The park is known for a diverse range of plants and animals. You can see lizards, foxes, and unique plant species. The hiking trails of the White Sands are truly worth visiting.
Make sure to head over to the Visitor’s Center when you first arrive. They will tell you everything you need to know about the White Sands.
The Weather in the White Sands National Park
The White Sands National Park experiences a desert climate. More specifically, it is classified as a hot desert climate (BWh).
This type of climate is characterized by hot and dry summers, mild winters, and low precipitation throughout the year.
Generally, the climate is very nice for outdoor activities. But let’s break this general info down a bit more for each season to find the best time of the year to visit the White Sands National Park. Let’s check out the White Sands National Park weather per month.
Spring (March to May)
The weather in Spring in the White Sands National Park is very pleasant. Spring is a great time to visit the White Sands for many reasons.
The average temperatures during the day range from 65°F (18°C) to 85°F (29°C). This is great weather for exploring without getting chilly. Especially towards May, it can already get a little hot, so keep that in mind.
The Nights can be cool, with temperatures dropping to 40°F (4°C) to 60°F (15°C). This is especially important to consider if you plan on going camping or participating in a full-moon hike.
Spring is generally a dry season with low precipitation. I find this is one of the most important things when picking a good time to travel somewhere. Rainfall can ruin any nice trip – but luckily it is very rare to have rain in Spring in the White Sands.
Summer (June to August)
Summers are weather-wise not the best time of the year to visit the White Sands National Park.
The Summers in White Sands National Park are typically very hot and dry. On warm days, the daytime temperatures can go up to around 95°F (35°C) or even higher. This can make hiking in the White Sands incredibly uncomfortable.
the Nighttime temperatures usually range from 65°F (18°C) to 75°F (24°C). For camping in the White Sands, Summer would be the best time of the year.
Sadly, also thunderstorms can occur in the late afternoon or evening. While this may be providing some relief from the heat, it is not good weather for hiking or picnicking.
Summer is the least ideal season to visit the White Sands National Park.
Fall (September to November)
The temperatures in fall in the USA are mild and pleasant – making it an excellent time to visit the White Sands National Park.
The daytime temperatures range from 70°F (21°C) to 85°F (29°C), which is great weather for hiking, picnicking and spending some time outside.
The nights in fall will gradually become cooler, with temperatures dropping to 45°F (7°C) to 60°F (15°C). Keep the colder temperatures at the end of fall in mind, when thinking about camping.
Precipitation levels typically remain low during this season, this means little rainfall and less thunderstorms than in summer.
Generally speaking, fall is considered the best time to visit the White Sands National Park.
Winter (December to February)
Winters in White Sands National Park are generally mild during the day. If you are only planning a visit for a day, winter can be a great time to visit the White Sands. Personally, this is my favorite time to visit the White Sands.
Daytime temperatures average around 55°F (13°C), but can drop to 40°F (4°C). On days without wind, it can sometimes even be warmer. This is good weather for hiking since you won’t have to deal with extreme heat.
The nighttime temperatures can dip below freezing, ranging from 25°F (-4°C) to 35°F (2°C). Camping during winter season is not advisable, since it can get quite uncomfortable.
Winter is also the wettest season, with occasional rain showers and light snowfall. For this reasons, many people don’t consider winter an ideal time to go to the White Sands.
High Season at the White Sands National Park
The high season in the White Sands National Park typically ranges from April to August. Especially during the summer months, the hiking trails are crowded.
The summer months are also the most expensive time to visit the White Sands, in regard to accommodation.
Since spring and fall are amazing months for hiking and outdoor activities, the weekends tend to be a bit busy during that time as well.
If you are trying to avoid crowds all together, visit during the winter months. This is the most quiet time of the year in the White Sands National Park.
Cheapest Time to Visit White Sands
The cheapest time to visit the White Sands National Park is typically in winter. Especially January and February are very cheap accommodation wise.
You might have to deal with a little colder temperatures during the night, but it is still worth it going if you want to save a bit of money.
Festivals and Activities in the Area
When visiting White Sands National Park, you may want to consider festivities and events in the area. If you are interested, these festivals can enhance your overall experience – or maybe you want to avoid them to have a more quiet experience.
Here are a few notable celebrations in the region:
- White Sands Balloon Festival: This is an annual event that takes place in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Hot air balloon enthusiasts showcase their colorful balloons. This is truly a beautiful spectacle, especially with the backdrop of the white sand dunes. The event usually takes place in September, so if your visit aligns with this time, it’s worth checking out. Nowadays, they even combine it as a Balloon and Music festival, making it even more fun.
- Otero County Fair and Rodeo: This annual fair in Alamogordo is a whole lot of fun. You can see agricultural exhibits, livestock shows, arts and crafts, carnival rides, and other cool entertainment options. In 2023, the fair is being held in September.
- Check the Alamogordo Event Calendar for smaller, non-regular events that take place!
Best Months for Stargazing
White Sands National Park offers excellent opportunities for stargazing. This is something you absolutely need to take into account.
Due to its remote location and minimal light pollution you will have great visibility of the milky way. The best time for stargazing at the park is typically during the clear nights of the summer and winter seasons.
Especially summer nights (from June to August) have the best stargazing conditions. The skies tend to be clearer, and the park remains open 24/7 so that’s not a problem. Also, the temperatures at night in summer are very comfortable to be outside.
Winter nights (December to February) typically also offer good visibility. The colder temperatures and lower humidity results in clear skies. Sometimes you can even witness meteor showers.
To make the most of your stargazing experience, consider visiting the park during a new moon phase, when the night sky is darkest and stars shine brightest. Checking moonrise and moonset times can also help you plan your stargazing session. Otherwise the moon’s light might interfere with visibility.
White Sands National Park occasionally organizes special events, such as stargazing programs or astronomy nights and full-moon walks. It’s worth checking the park’s website before you go.
Best Months for Hiking in the White Sands National Park
There are five different hiking trails in the White Sands National Park. I have written an in-depth post about hiking in the White Sands, but here is a quick overview of the hikes:
- Interdune Boardwalk (Easy, 0.4 mi)
- Playa Trail (Easy, 0.5 mi)
- Big Dune Loop (Moderate, 0.7 mi)
- Dune Life Nature Trail (Moderate, 1 mi)
- Backcountry Camping Trail (Moderate, 2 mi)
- Alkali Flat Trail (Difficult, 5 mi)
The best time to go to the White Sands National Park for hiking is through October until May. The summer months are not amazing for hiking.
On one hand, it is incredibly hot in summer. On the other hand, is can also be a lot more crowded during summer holiday season.
Other Things to Consider When Picking Your Travel Time
Here are some other things you might want to consider when planning your holiday to the White Sands National Monument.
- The Full-Moon Night event is only offered from May through October
- Full Moon Hikes are offered from March through December
- The Lake Lucero Tours are offered only from November though March
- Fall foliage on the Dune Life Hiking Trail is visible
- Park closures might occur due to missile tests at the White Sands Missile Range. Check this website for upcoming closures! Be aware, they can also be pretty last minute.
Conclusion: Best Time to Visit White Sands National Park
To sum it up, the best time to visit the White Sands National Park is in fall or spring. Both seasons do not have any extreme weather.
During the summer months, it can get extremely hot. In winter, it can be freezing. For the best possible experience, visit is spring or fall.
Of course it also depends on what you want to do in the White Sands National Park. Certain events, like the Full-Moon Hike, are not offered during the winter months.
Make sure to also check for special events in the area as well as missile tests before picking your travel time.
If you want to learn more about the close-by city of Alamogordo, head over to this comprehensive travel guide.
- Tularosa Basin Museum of History – What You Need to Know
- Best Time to Go to White Sands National Park – Local’s Guide
- New Mexico Vs Arizona – The Ultimate Comparison
- 27 Pros and Cons of Living in New Mexico – 2024 Expat Guide
- 27 Amazing Things To Do in Alamogordo (Local’s Guide)
FAQ: Best Time to Go to the White Sands National Park
Can you visit White Sands National Park in January?
Yes, you can visit the White Sands National Park in January. The park is open year round 24/7 and welcomes visitors. It might be quite cold in January, but it is still a pleasant month to visit the White Sands National Park.
What is the weather in White Sands National Park in April?
In April, White Sands National Park experiences pleasant weather with average temperatures ranging from 65°F (18°C) to 85°F (29°C) during the day. Nights can be cool, dropping to 40°F (4°C) to 60°F (15°C). The park is generally dry during this time, offering favorable conditions for outdoor activities and exploration.
What is the best time to visit the White Sands National Park?
The best time to visit White Sands National Park is during the spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) seasons. These periods offer mild temperatures, ideal for outdoor activities, and the park’s natural beauty is at its peak. However, if you prefer stargazing, clear summer nights or winter months can provide excellent opportunities to witness the mesmerizing night sky.
Is February a good time to visit White Sands National Park?
Yes, February can be a good time to visit White Sands National Park if you enjoy milder temperatures and fewer crowds. While it can be chilly, with daytime temperatures around 55°F (13°C) and nighttime temperatures dropping below freezing, you may have the opportunity to experience the park’s unique beauty in a peaceful and serene setting.
How long to visit White Sands National Park
The ideal duration for a visit to White Sands National Park can vary depending on personal preferences and interests. A typical visit to fully experience the park can range from a few hours to a full day. This allows time for activities like hiking the dunes, sledding, exploring the nature trails, and capturing the stunning scenery. A stay for multiple days can provide a more in-depth exploration of the park’s offerings.
Is May a good time to visit the White Sands National Park
Yes, May is a good time to visit the White Sands National Park. It is not as hot yet as it gets in summer, and many seasonal activities, like stargazing and full-moon hikes are already offered.
About the Author
Sabrina is a passionate travel blogger and content creator based in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Her goal is to explore the beautiful state of New Mexico and share it on this blog. She’ll also dive deep into culture, history and other interesting facts about her new home on this blog.