Famous White Sands National Park
Before it was a national park
White Sands just became the famous White Sands National Park was redesigned to a National Park in 2019, but has been White Sands long before then. White Sands started as a National Monument in 1933 and a pit-stop for people from all over the world, even the Osbourne Family. Now, it's the famous White Sands National Park.
Travel Day to Elephant Butte State Park
We can finally say, we're kind of getting good at this whole camping thing... and we couldn't be living in a better part of the country to experience the outdoors.
Since camping at New Mexico State Parks reopened (closed prior due to the COVID-19 pandemic), we chose to stay at one. We stayed at Desert Cove Campground in Elephant Butte Lake State Park. This was a place we wanted to visit too (about 2 hours NW of White Sands National Park), so we thought we could take advantage of both opportunities. We arrived after dark on Friday night, ate some amazing southwest inspired burgers from the Bigfoot Restaurant and got settled in for the weekend.
Fun Side Story
We started our drive to Elephant Butte Lake State Park Friday evening. We had the trip timed perfect to arrive at the campsite and have some time to enjoy sitting outside. Nope.
On our drive, we noticed towing the camper and driving through New Mexico, we were getting very low miles per gallon. Doing some quick math, we realized we probably wouldn't make it to the next gas station about 50-miles away!
Every thought ran through our heads. We were in the middle of no where, with no exits with services, it was getting dark, and we were starting to talk about how we were going to camp on the side of the road!
But then, a miracle happened. A non-advertised gas station (Santa Fe Diner and Truck Stop) appeared out of no where! We pulled in and filled up. The pumps were so old and wouldn't take our credit card, we were instructed to fill up our tank and take a picture of the dispenser for proof, then they would charge the credit card inside based on our picture.
We get back in the truck, turn the key to start the ignition, the truck starts, then... immediately shuts off! This happened a few times in a row. We now thought we we'd be sleeping at the gas station!
Fortunately, we let the truck sit for about 10-minutes and it started again perfectly. We were on our way and pulled into the campsite at dusk.
Bucket List Item, Check: White Sands National Park
Saturday morning we made the 2 hour drive to the gorgeous and Famous White Sands National Park. We arrived around 11:00 (Pro Tip: arrive early to avoid the long line to get into the park). Luckily for us, their computers were down that day so we got in for FREE! Next time we'll be buying our Interagency Annual Pass for all National Parks.
For those looking for free fun at White Sands, they do have a few Fee Free Days scattered throughout the year. You can guarantee those days will be packed, so make sure you get there early!
We planned ahead and brought our own water, lunch, and sleds. There is no water passed the visitors center, so make sure you pack plenty of water or purchase some ahead of time.
According to the White Sands website, "waxed plastic snow saucers work best" and I'd agree. Our sleds moved at a snails pace down each sand dune. Regardless, still a bucket list experience!
Have I mentioned how beautiful this park is? It's unreal. The sand was cool, even with a hot sun beating down. Just when you think you're at the end of the park approaching a dune, once you get to the top, you see white sand for what feels like forever! These pictures don't even do it justice.
Elephant Butte Lake State Park
Next on our list was to check out the beautiful lake at Elephant Butte Lake State Park. We left The Famous White Sands National Park and headed back to camp to explore the lake.
This lake was beautiful and had everything you could want. We drove our truck right up to the water and walked around. There were boats and jet skis in the water and people cooking out on the beach. It would be the perfect place to spend a summer day in New Mexico.
...now if only we had a boat.
Dinner at Elephant Butte Lake State Park
Finally, we headed back to the campsite for a much needed beer and some Philly Cheese Steaks for dinner at Elephant Butte Lake State Park. We had a relaxing rest of the night capped off with a campfire and smore's.
What a fun weekend we had at the famous White Sands National Park and Elephant Butte Lake State Park. We'll definitely be heading back to Elephant Butte Lake, especially since it's an easy day trip. It would be a blast to bring the camper, going swimming, and cook out with family.
Have you been to White Sands National Park or Elephant Butte Lake State Park? If so, leave us a comment with your experience.