Early Entry - Stay Late

Orange and yellow clouds streak across the sky with white sand dunes dimly lit in the foreground.
Cloudy sunrises often give you the chance to see beautiful pink streaks in the sky.

R.Burghart Photo

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 30 days prior to the day you are requesting the early entry or stay late.

2. Read, sign, and return with application the General Permit Conditions.

3. Email your request to WHSA_film_photography@nps.gov. Enter the requested date and write “early entry or stay late” in the subject line. The form, signed general conditions, and specific permit conditions must be received by the park no less than 30 days prior to the day you are requesting the early entry or stay late.

4. Once received, most applications requests for early entry or stay late will be processed within 30 days.

5. After your early open or stay late request is reviewed, you may be contacted to provide additional information or to discuss the details of your request if the request cannot be approved with the information provided.

6. After favorable review of your request, you will be contacted for payment of fees. Fees must be paid prior to entry either in advance by appointment or via mail. Payments may also be accepted the day of the early open/stay late. See the fees section below for more information about fees.

7. Submit payment In the form of a cashier's check or money order. Credit cards and personal or business checks are not accepted. Make checks or money orders payable to the National Park Service. Factor in additional time for payments processed through the mail.

If sending payment via mail, send payment to:
Special Park Uses
White Sands National Park
PO Box 1086
Holloman AFB, NM 88330

For payment via appointment, email the Special Use Permit Coordinator and write in the subject line “appointment.”

8. Once payment is received, you will be provided a copy of your approved early open or stay late request. This paperwork must be in your possession when you arrive for your early open or stay late.

Fees for Early Entry or Stay Late?

If your request for early entry/stay late is approved, the fee will be up to $75 per hour or any fraction thereof. For example, if you want to enter the park 30 minutes prior to opening, the fee will be up to $75. 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: April 30, 2022

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 1086
Holloman AFB , NM 88330


575 479-6124

Contact Us


Stay Connected