I’m here to tell you all the reasons you can should Elope at White Sands National Park! This is one of only two National Parks in New Mexico. There are an additional 11 national monuments in the state too. New Mexico’s landscapes are much less well known than the iconic parks of Utah, Arizona and California. But they are incredibly unique and never crowded. I loved my first trip to New Mexico and can’t wait to share all these amazing locations with you!
Where to Elope in White Sands National Park
This isn’t a very big park, but it does have a few different areas to explore. The first stop after the entrance station is one of my favorites – the dune walk. This walk goes up and down the bumpy sand dunes in a loop. The great thing about this area is the vegetation that adds interest to the scene. There is more wildlife in the Yuccas, Ocotillos, Agaves and Cactuses here than anywhere else in the park. There are several other picnic areas as you head west into the park. At the end, the real fun begins. Walk out into the dunes as far as you like to get to pristine rippled sand. This is the perfect National Park for a barefoot elopement! Who doesn’t love sand between their toes and an endless beach?!
Planning & Logistics
The sparkling white sand is made up of crushed gypsum. Wind changes the sand’s shapes every single day. The ecology and geology of the area is super fascinating! If you’re a nature lover or National Park freak like me, this is an amazing destination. Outside the park, there is a military missile testing area. Occasionally their tests will shut down the only road to the park. Call ahead to secure your plans! The park’s special use permit, which you will need to legally have your elopement, can be found here. Because you will need to note where you’ll be and when on the app, it’s best to get on board with a photographer who knows the park first.
What to do at White Sands
You guys! You can ride around on the dunes on horseback here! And if you’ve never been sledding down the sand dunes, don’t wait a moment longer! Sleds are for sale at the visitors center or you can bring your own. If you bring a group of 10 or so besties who are children at heart (or actual children) they will love this! The dunes can be quite steep, so thrill seekers of any level will love it. The ample picnic areas with shade make for a great spot to have a grill out. Or a competitive grill-off! You can even bike around the park or get a backcountry camping permit for an unforgettable experience.
When & Where to Elope in New Mexico
Without giving away too much about my favorite spots to elope in New Mexico, let me just say there are a lot! One mountain range looks like someone picked up the Tetons and moved them into the desert! There are springs, amazing hiking trails, mountains galore and NO crowds. Winter is a fabulous time for an elopement at White Sands. In the hotter months, expect to be active at sunrise or sunset. The city of Las Cruces has a vibrant and historic food scene. If you love food, don’t skip this place! Don’t miss a chance to camp out under the stars with your new spouse. There are even a few group camping areas you can reserve that are ADA accessible and have EPIC views.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my colorful guide, and that I’ve inspired you to adventure outdoors on your wedding day. This wild and colorful place is just itching for the right couple to grab it by the horns, sled down the dunes, camp under the stars and get elope at white sands!
A sample timeline for an awesome elopement day at White Sands National Park:
6:00 Sunrise First Look
6:30 Campsite waffles for breakfast
7:00 Begin 4 mile hike in the mountains
11:00 Head to White Sands
12:00 meet up with 10 closest loved ones for a cook off with Mexican corn and Horchata
1:00 Sand dune sledding or horseback ride in White Sands
4:00 Afternoon ceremony in the dunes
5:00 Sunset portraits
6:30 Twilight smores back at group campsite (Or hike to a backcountry campsite to spend the night truly alone!)
7:00 Starry first dance
I’m a nomadic and colorful elopement photographer with an obsession for mountains, hiking, and my cats. My photography style emphasizes the epic landscape of your dreams and the authentic moments that make you two.. well, you two! I love my job and my nature-loving clients. White Sands is a dreamy dune paradise, and New Mexico is criminally underrated. Maybe I’ll see you there!
I offer full day, 1.5 day and 2 day elopement photography in National Parks and the wild lands outside of them. See my pricing and package details here. I would love to chat with you and help see if an elopement with me is what you’ve been dreaming of. Get in touch below!
This map is like a virtual tour of White Sands and the surrounding areas in New Mexico with color photos I’ve taken of each place. So you can see all the great spots without leaving your living room. If you’re planning from afar, this is a visual key to picking out the elopement spot that works for you. Details like what seasons and time of day are best for each location are included. It will help you plan your activities, accommodations, and your day’s itinerary. Lastly, it’s easy to have a great backup location picked out with this map in front of you. Having that Plan B in your back pocket will keep your planning stress-free! I can’t share all my tips for how to elope at white sands with you!
Ready to start panning your White Sands elopement? Contact me!
See my other Desert Elopement Guides:
– Zion Elopement Guide
– Grand Canyon Elopement Guide
– Bryce Canyon Elopement Guide
– Snow Canyon State Park Elopement Park
– Moab Elopement Guide
– Horseshoe Bend Elopement Guide
– Saguaro National Park Elopement Guide
– Death Valley Elopement Guide
– Joshua Tree Elopement Guide