White Sands National Park is part of the world’s largest gypsum dune field which brings tourists and tourism dollars to Otero County communities.
Since White Sands National Park’s designation was changed in December 2019, the park has seen record visitation, even with COVID-19 regulations and restrictions.
“In 2021, 782,000 park visitors spent an estimated $46.4 million in local gateway regions while visiting White Sands National Park,” a National Park Service report states. “These expenditures supported a total of 630 jobs, $17.7 million in labor income, $28.6 million in value added, and $55.7 million in economic output in local gateway economies surrounding White Sands National Park.”
The number of visitors to the park grew from 415,383 in 2020, a period which included a several-months long closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Up to May 2022, White Sands National Park has seen 328,664 visitors which is comparable for January through May 2021 which had 342,856 visitors.
The nation’s newest park also set records in economic output and visitor spending in 2021.
Economic output – measured by the total value of production of goods and support services in a gateway community – was reported at $55.7 million.
Visitors to the park spent $46.4 million primarily for food and lodging. Hotels received $13.9 million of that spending, while restaurants received $9.f3 million and retail received $6.8 million. Visitors also spent an estimated $9.6 million on gas when visiting the park.
That far outpaced New Mexico’s other national park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, which generated $27.4 in economic output and $25.1 in visitor spending.
The park is located on US Highway 70 about 15 miles outside Alamogordo and 52 miles out of Las Cruces. The park entrance is between mile markers 199 and 200 on US Highway 70.
As of June 30, most of White Sands National Park is open. The only facet that is not currently open in backcountry camping.
No reservations are needed to access White Sands National Park which is open from 7 am until 9 pm
The Visitor’s Center is open from 9 am until 6 pm Sleds can be purchased in the gift shop.
The entrance fee is $25 per vehicle, $15 for those who walk or bicycle into the park and $20 by motorcycle.
For more information, visit the White Sands National Park website or call 575 479-6124.
Nicole Maxwell can be contacted by email at [email protected], by phone at 575-415-6605 or on Twitter at @nicmaxreporter.
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