What Is the Best Time to Travel to White Sands National Park?

Fall is the best time to visit White Sands National Park, but you’ll get a better price in winter.
Written by Patrick Price
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Updated on Sep 27, 2022
Fall is the best time to visit White Sands National Park, but you’ll pay cheaper rates in winter. If you’ve been daydreaming about a sandy and sunny place where you can kick up your feet and take in a beautiful view, then it might be time for you to schedule a trip.
White Sands National Park
in southern
New Mexico
(about four hours south of
Albuquerque
) is the world’s largest deposit of gypsum and a federally protected national park. The gypsum makes for terrain similar to sand but with a distinct and striking white color. 
It’s quite a sight to see—the rolling dunes of ivory-colored dust, like the waves of a petrified sea, seem straight out of poetry.  
If you’d like to take a trip and see this natural wonder of the world for yourself, you’ll need to decide when you’re going. Don’t sweat it! As luck would have it,
Jerry
—your
super app
for
car insurance
—has compiled this guide on the best times to visit White Sands National Park
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The best times of year to travel to White Sands National Park

Peak season at White Sands National Park begins in mid-spring and carries through until the end of the summer.
As autumn settles in, the heat dies down and the white sands roll into their shoulder season. The crowds will start thinning out as early as the beginning of September. This is arguably the best time to travel to White Sands. 
The fall season lasts through mid-October. After that, the temperatures start to drop and the winter off-season arrives in earnest. Off-season lasts until April begins to thaw out the park and White Sands welcomes the majority of its visitors again.

Peak season: April to August

The good: pleasant afternoon temperatures, spring bloom
The bad: frequent afternoon thunderstorms, high winds, crowded, higher rates
The weather: low 40s to low 100s
If you decide to visit the park during peak season, you’ll be battling crowds, both for a spot on the dunes and for hotel accommodations. You’ll also be paying inflated peak season rates and contend with some harsh sunlight and winds. 
That being said, the peak season is a wonderful time to visit White Sands National Park.
Early in the season, you can witness the springtime desert bloom when the white sand landscape suddenly becomes accented with brilliantly colored
wildflowers
When summer comes around, weather permitting, you can usually find the best
photography opportunities
of the entire year, especially when the summer sun is setting in streaks of red and gold over the white dunes.  
Pro Tip It’s very easy to get lost out in the rolling dunes, and temperatures can be quite high. Make sure you always have plenty of water and sunscreen on hand.  

Off-season: December to March 

The good: less crowded, lower rates
The bad: bitter cold
The weather: low 20s to high 60s 
As November ends and autumn gives way to the winter off-season, the temperatures in the park will drop dramatically. Stay warmly nestled in your car while you take in the majesty of the dunes by driving along with the scenic
Driving Dunes Drive
The off-season is a perfect time to indulge in
sand sledding
. With the park mostly emptied, you’ll have the dunes all to yourself. Then, step out of the cold into the
Visitor’s Center
, where you can learn all about the rich history of the park. 

Shoulder season: September to November

The good: cottonwood bloom, thinner crowds, gorgeous weather
The bad: monsoon season
The weather: low 30s to high 80s 
Autumn is absolutely the best time to travel to White Sands National Park. You can still enjoy the longer days and the natural beauty without dealing with the crowds, which will have mostly dissipated by the fall. 
You can also enjoy a special treat in the fall, as The Rio Grande Cottonwood trees change colors to a vibrant yellow. 
Given the milder weather, fall is also the best time for
biking
,
horseback riding
,
backcountry camping
, and
hiking
. The
Alkali Trail
is particularly wonderful around this time. 

The cheapest time to travel to White Sands National Park

The cheapest time to visit White Sands National Park is the winter off-season. While the weather is cold, people are much less likely to want to visit the park. This means that demand for travel and lodging accommodation will be usually low. 
December, January, and February will often be particularly affordable (notwithstanding airfare rate hikes around the holidays). 

How to find savings on car and rental insurance

Whether you’re flying into nearby
Alamogordo
and
renting a car
or road-tripping all the way to White Sands National Park, you’re going to need good
car insurance
to keep yourself protected. 
If you use the free car insurance price comparison app
Jerry
to shop for insurance, you’ll be able to find the best available policies for the lowest available prices.
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