Last month my husband and I traveled to White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. We stayed 8 days camping for free on BLM land nearby. I liked being close to the park in order to visit often. Unfortunately, we arrived during spring break! There were tons of people out on the dunes. Because of this we decided to stay longer so we could avoid some of the crowds and take advantage of some days of really high winds, hoping the wind would clear some of the footprints in the sand. It worked like a charm!
Since it’s my first time visiting, I had to do a little research online to find out more about the park. I also went to the Visitor Center to find out about their rules for photography. Turns out they open their gates at 7:00am which was right around sunrise time when we were there. Also, they close their gate in the evening at 7:00pm and want those in the park out of the park by 8:00pm. There was a ranger out approaching people one night we were there around closing time. This made it hard to get photos during the optimal times. Sunset worked out best for me. I did find out you could arrange to have a park ranger unlock the gate an hour early for a $50 fee with at least a weeks notice. The other option was to get a permit and tent camp in their backpacking campsite area. Since Daylight Savings Time (DST) just happened close to the time of our visit, I think if we would have come a week or two earlier, we might have been able to get in by sunrise.
I had a great time photographing White Sands and look forward to returning again next year. With a little more planning, I want to return because the white sand is amazing! There are endless compositional possibilities with the sweeping dunes and plant life out there. It’s a must see for any photographer!