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White Sands, the new national park to discover in the United States

White Sands Park in New Mexico has become the 62nd national park in the United States.

The American national parks are now 62. After the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (Indiana) in February 2019, it is the turn of the White Sands park to join the family of national parks in the United States, managed by the National Park Service (NPS). The site, founded in 1933 as White Sands National Monument, received this distinction in December 2019, joining Yellowstone, Yosemite or the Grand Canyon.

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Located in the state of New Mexico, 80 km from El Paso and 400 km from Albuquerque, the 700 kmĀ² park is part of the Chihuahua Desert. It is famous for its white sand dunes composed of gypsum, covered 10,000 years ago by an inland sea. If the landscapes suggest that the desert is uninhabited, this is far from the case. Coyotes, lizards, rat-kangaroos … The park has 800 species of mammals, reptiles or amphibians capable of adapting to a hostile environment.

In pictures, the new White Sands National Park

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Moonlight hikes with rangers

Every year, 600,000 people visit the park. Its tourist frequentation should increase thanks to this new status. The number of visitors would increase by 21% in the five years following a classification in a national park, according to a study by the NPS.

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To explore the park, you have to take one of the four hiking trails. Activities organized by rangers take place regularly, such as the sunset walk, the night hike every full moon, or the shooting star gazing (Perseid Meteor Shower) during the summer. A panoramic road through the dunes allows you to discover the park aboard your vehicle. Every year in September, hundreds of hot air balloons fly over the park for the White Sands Balloon Festival.

The park opens every day of the year at 7 a.m., except December 25. It closes between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. depending on the season. Located near a military test area (White Sands Missile Range), it is likely to close unexpectedly. Entrance costs $ 15 per pedestrian, $ 20 per motorcycle and $ 25 per vehicle. More information on the nps.gov website.

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