A veritable playground!! Climbing the gypsum dunes, sliding down on plastic sleds, driving the 16-mile dune drive, and seeing nothing but white sand all around you is the perfect destination on a calm, warm, early March morning. The temperature was nearing the high 60s and the sun was high. I imagine the summer is very hot and not so appealing for strenuous activity or hiking through the hot gypsum. It's the beach without the ocean. This is a great area to camp, trailer-in horses, or to just spend a few hours climbing and sledding on the dunes. What is cool was that most of the people sledding were adults!! I didn't have time for sledding, but it is a beautiful place to sit and reflect for a while.
White Sands National Monument is seemingly boundless, but it is 275 square miles of white gypsum bounded by two sets of missile ranges of the same name, Lake Lucero, the San Andres mountains and Holloman Air Force Base. The monument is approximately, 100 miles from El Paso, 16 miles from Alamogordo, and 52 miles from Las Cruces. The rangers sponsor full moon hikes and sunset tours-- the web page is comprehensive on activities and on park alerts, closures, etc. You should always check the website before trekking over because the missile range activities apparently take precedence over tourism, and road closures can apparently last hours or or even days.
The next time I'm in the area, I plan to do a full moon tour. The mostly nocturnal animals in the park venture out, and the glistening gypsum under a full moon promises to be a natural tranquilizer for another day trekking around the Land of Enchantment. I hear that Ruidoso is nice to visit and only 65 miles away!