Camping at White Sands National Park. Photograph by Tira Howard. 

GYPSUM DUNES TAKE ON a magical feel under moonlight—a wonder best experienced by camping at one of White Sands National Park’s 10 primitive spots. Roughly a quarter mile to a mile from the Backcountry Camping Loop trailhead, the campsites (closed indefinitely due to COVID-19) create a secluded back-to-nature experience unlike any other.

“Once you’re out far enough, it’s a whole new world,” says photographer Wayne Suggs, who regularly camps at White Sands to capture mesmerizing night views. “You find solitude. The breathtaking beauty of it is just amazing.”

In addition to a tent, sleeping bag, food, and plenty of water (at least one gallon per person per day, according to park officials), Suggs advises a handheld GPS to avoid getting lost. Open fires aren’t allowed, but it’s okay to take a small camp stove. 

While camping beneath the light of a full moon is popular, Suggs prefers moonless nights. That’s when the glittery view of
a sky packed with stars takes center stage. 

“It doesn’t matter what kind of light you’re out there in,” Suggs says. “It’s always different, and it’s always good.”

On top of park admission fees, camping permits are $3 per person per day, on a first-come basis. Check with the park for availability.