White Sands: The World's Largest Gypsum Dunefield | WNPA

White Sands

National Park


In the heart of the Tularosa Basin is one of the world’s great natural wonders—glistening white sands. Great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand engulf 275 square miles of desert, creating the world’s largest gypsum dunefield. A major portion of this dunefield and its plants and animals are preserved.

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Originally established as a national monument by President Hoover in 1933, White Sands National Park was redesignated as a national park on December 20, 2019. This glistening landscape preserves 275 square miles of gypsum dunes in the Chihuahuan Desert of southern New Mexico, making it the largest gypsum dunefield in the world. The story of these dazzling and shifting dunes began 280 million years ago when the Permian Sea covered the area and gypsum settled on the seafloor. A common mineral found all over the world, gypsum is rarely found in sand form, making the 275-square-mile dunefield a profoundly unique natural wonder. Learn more about the cultural, historical, and ecological significance of White Sands National Park and explore the unique recreational opportunities that make this park a one-of-a-kind experience for all visitors.

Stories from White Sands

Ten Prehistoric Hearth Sites at White Sands National Monument
Since our founding in 1938

WNPA has provided more than

$136 million

in aid to our partner parks to fund educational programs, initiatives, and scientific research

Kids in Parks

National parks are places where kids can dream up great adventures! Taking in amazing scenery. Testing out new skills. Exploring places kids may have only heard about. But most importantly, creating new memories with friends and family.

Our public lands are our public commons. They belong to all of us as part of our natural and cultural heritage. They remind us of a larger world that has existed long before the arrival of humans and will survive long after we are gone. –Terry Tempest Williams, Author & Conservationist

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Bring the Parks Home

When you can’t get to a national park for a visit, experience it from the comfort of your home. WNPA’s online store is packed with ranger-approved park collectibles, books, toys, and clothing. Shop for a special item.