White Sands to Become a National Park

Historic site was previously designated White Sands National Monument

White Sands
White Sands offers vistas unlike anywhere else in the country.
davebluedevil/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / December 22, 2019 6:36 am

What’s in a name? Sometimes, a whole lot. This week brought with it the news that White Sands National Monument has become White Sands National Park. This change in its designation might seem relatively minor, but it’s been in the works for over half a century. 

The change took place when President Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020. Within the act was a provision to make the change; it also involves a land swap between the new National Park and the missile testing site next door. The military will receive 2,826 acres, and in return will cede 5,766 acres to the park. 

Maura Fox at Outside has more details on the park’s history and how this change was finally accomplished. “Starting this spring, visitors to the 275-square-mile stretch of rolling dunes will now be able to hike and camp in its backcountry, sled down sandy hills, and stargaze — without the interruptions of missile tests,” Fox writes.

Fox reports that nearby residents are excited for the changeover, as the change in the region’s status will likely involve an increased number of visitors, benefiting the local economy. 

White Sands National Monument opened in 1934; it was declared as such by President Hoover on the final day of his administration. The area has long been a popular one, but the land swap will also mean that missile testing will no longer prevent people from accessing the area — which means a certain corner of New Mexico might well be in your travel plans for the new year. 

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