While many National Park Service areas may be entered at any time, day or night, from sunrise or sunset to view wildlife and take photos, White Sands is different. Park and visitor center operating hours vary by season. If you would like to enter early or stay late to enjoy a sunrise or the night sky, you must request a permit to entry early or stay late.
How to Request an Early Entry or Stay Late
1. Complete and submit the Special Park Uses form. The form must be received by the park no less than 14 working days prior to the day you are requesting the early entry or stay late.
Fees for Early Entry or Stay Late?
If your request for early entry/stay late is approved, the fee is $50 per hour or any fraction thereof. For example, if you want to enter the park 30 minutes prior to opening, the fee will be $50. This fee is per hour or fraction thereof, not per person. Payment must be made in cash, traveler cheques, cashier check, or money order for the exact amount. No personal or company checks will be accepted. Make travelers cheques, cashier check, or money orders payable to National Park Service.
When to Submit Your Permit Request
Early entry or stay late permit requests may be submitted up to six months in advance and no less than 30 days in advance of your requested date.
What Happens on the Morning of an Early Entry?
A ranger will open the main highway gate at the requested time; however, the ranger will wait only 10 minutes. If you are late, the ranger will close the gate and go about his/her duties. You will not be able to enter the park and no money will be refunded. There will be only one opening per group. Please arrive on time.
What Happens on the Evening of a Stay Late?
You will provide a description of the vehicle(s) in your group (make, model, color, and license plate) on the Request for Early Entry or Stay Late application. The ranger closing the park on the date of your late stay will clear the park per normal procedures. At the designated exit time, you will meet the ranger at the locked gates at the entrance to the park. The ranger will open the gates for you to exit. The ranger will only wait 10 minutes. Citations could be issued if you fail to exit at the designated time. Please do not be late.
If You Have Additional Questions...
Please contact the Special Park Uses Coordinator. Please write “early open or stay late request” in the subject line.
Last updated: July 1, 2021