White Sands National Monument

Lost in the sand dunes at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico

White Sands is the top thing to do on your visit to Las Cruces. This unique national monument is unlike any place you’ve seen before and it is absolutely worth the hour drive from Las Cruces. In fact, most people visiting Las Cruces stay here just to get up and drive to White Sands.

Seeming popping out of the middle of nowhere in the  Chihuahuan Desert of New Mexico are the strikingly beautiful & rare white gypsum sand dunes that make up White Sands National Monument. You can toss off your shoes and walk bare feet on the sand even on the 100 degree summer days as gypsum sand does not absorb heat. It feels as if you are walking on the soft white sands of a Florida Gulf coast beach. Although, instead of sunbathing, you will see tourists sledding down the hills! This is really fun and therefore I recommend bringing a sled with you on your trip, buying one in the gift shop,or checking with your hotel (some hotels in Las Cruces have sleds available so check the front desk!).

Standing atop a large gypsum sand dune at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico

Enjoying the weird sand dunes at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico

Rare white sand dunes at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico

The gorgeous soft white gypsum sand dunes of White Sands National Monument in New Mexico

White Sands is definitely one of the strangest places I’ve visited out West – you really feel as if you are somewhere not of this world.  White Sands is a really unique place like no other in the country and totally worth stopping for if you find yourself vacationing or traveling through the southern portion of New Mexico.

Directions to White Sands 

Roswell

UFO Museum in Roswell, New Mexico

Roswell is a bit further away than the other day trips on this list at a lengthy 3 hour drive. However, it really is worth visiting for the strange & unusual UFO museum. It’s one of those places you just have to visit especially with the strange history revolving around the supposed UFO crashes of the 1950’s. As you are just a few hours away, who knows if you will ever be driving in this area again, so you may as well take the opportunity to check out this eclectic sight while you are here.

At the UFO Museum, you can read through all sorts of evidence and arguments surrounding the UFO controversy. It’s fun and educational at the same time. Really, it’s a quirky one time attraction worth going out of your way for. Downtown Roswell is really out there, with all sorts of weird UFO murals, UFO themed light posts, and eclectic shops selling all sorts of weird alien souvenirs. There are lots of spots to take your picture with aliens. It’s worth a stroll around if you are into alien memorabilia.

UFO and alien gift shop in downtown Roswell, New Mexico

Alien decor in downtown Roswell, New Mexico

Roswell UFO photos at UFO Museum

Alien evidence at the UFO Museum in Roswell, New Mexico

UFO Museum in Roswell, New Mexico

While you are in town check out Stellar Coffee – they serve some of the most delicious espresso drinks I’ve ever had! Bottomless Lakes State Park, just 15 minutes south of Roswell, is also worthy of a visit. This pretty natural area consists of unique shallow lakes (17-90 foot deep) which appear deeper due to the bright greenish blue color of the aquatic plants. The funny thing is that these bottomless lakes are neither bottomless or lakes as they are actually sinkholes. Nevertheless, you can hike, swim, fish, take out your kayak or canoe, or rent paddleboats for the day. These bottomless lakes are a source of many spooky legends which include creatures lurking at the bottom and stories of items mysteriously disappearing.

UFO Museum address:  114 N Main St, Roswell, NM 88203

More info on Bottomless Lakes State Park