Veloviews for October 21, 2021 – Cycling White Sands National Park, New Mexico

View of Mountains at White Sands Monument

Have you ever been to a desert where the sand is cool to the touch? I know that sounds like the opposite of what a desert should be, but at White Sands National Park, you can experience that sensation. Pull off your shoes or sandals and sink your feet in and you’ll feel refreshed, even on the hottest summer day.


White Sands National Park is located in southwest New Mexico and is surrounded by the very active White Sands Missile Range. The park is 145,762 acres in size, which includes the sand dunes that are made up of gypsum, which gives them their white coloration.

The park was designated as the White Sands National Monument in 1933, but it was changed to White Sands National Park in 2019. It was one of the most highly visited parks in the National Park System with 600,000 visitors each year.

Activities at White Sands National Park

Probably the single biggest activity at the park is sledding. Did I just say sledding? Yes, some of the dunes are so high that one can ride a toboggan down them. Of course, White Sands also has a “visitor center…, picnic areas, backcountry campground in the dunefield, [and] marked hiking trails.”

Another View inside White Sands National Park

Cycling at White Sands National Park

With the amount of acreage that the park covers, you would think that opportunities to bike would be plentiful. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.

For a $25.00 entrance fee, White Sands National Park offers visitors a scenic loop road that is 16 miles roundtrip. For a road bicyclist, riding that 16 miles might not be worth the time it takes to get your bike ready and put on your gear. The other thing to note is the road is completely flat.

Last Thoughts

Why isn’t the road around the park longer? It’s hard to say, but I think it has to do with encouraging visitors to get out of their cars and linger on the dunes. Or, as mentioned earlier, for them to take part, if they wish, in sledding down them.

If you’re a cyclist, at least you can say you rode in one of the most unique National Parks in all of America. And, as I sometimes like to tell myself, some bike ride is better than no bike ride. Additionally, what you see on a bike will always be more memorable than what you see closed up in a car.

Have you visited New Mexico? Have visited White Sands National Park? Please like, share, and comment if you enjoyed this post. It looks like a nice weekend ahead here in the midwest, so hopefully, you can get in some fall miles.

Author: Doug McNamee

Freelance Content Writer, Travel Writer, Editor, and poet.

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