we took our dog and cat to white sands national park.

I have dreamt of taking Buttters to run and dig in the gypsum hills of White Sands, New Mexico for years. So when that moment finally happened, I found myself misty eyed watching Butters run like a puppy with Anthony and me with my cat, Tiskies, in her cat backpack. We made it. All of us.

White Sands National Park is located in southern New Mexico, only an hour or so outside of Las Cruces, and a couple hours west of Carlsbad Caverns National Park. It’s quickly become a popular destination thanks it’s Instagram worthy backdrops.

But, I’ve been wanting to go to White Sands, NM before it was cool.

I first heard of White Sands years ago, when I had done a Google search of “Best Dog Friendly National Parks”, and while I wasn’t able to make it all the way to Acadia National Park in Maine … maybe I could take Butters to this random place in New Mexico where she could dig to China, if she wanted to without breaking any rules at a normally strict National Park.

So I made her a promise to take her there someday.

It took a lot longer than I had expected, but we finally made it. It’s a good thing it’s required to have a pet on a leash because if not, she would have been gone! She was 7 going on 7 months again!

Heck, even Tiskies got in on the fun. However, I don’t think she shared Butters’s enthusiasm for the soft stuff.

White Sands National Park is actually not made of sand, it’s gypsum. So no matter how warm the New Mexico sun may get, gypsum doesn’t retain heat the same way sand does, so there’s less chance of burned paws!

A popular thing to do at White Sands is sledding! So bring your own, or stop by the Visitor’s Center to rent one for the day! If you’re not in the mood for an adrenaline rush or a hike, you can still see the sights from your car by driving along the 8-mile Dunes Drive (which is also RV friendly).

Permits are normally available for backcountry overnight camping, however due to COVID restrictions, they weren’t available at the time of our visit. So we opted for the comfort of a KOA in the nearby town of Alamogordo.

Where to Eat in Alamogordo

When in New Mexico, there’s one thing you HAVE to eat … hatch chilis. Lucky for you New Mexicans LOVE chilis so they put it on everything!

Hi D Ho Drive In

The small town of Alamogordo may not look like much, but it has just the right mix of familiar foodie favorites such as McD’s, DQ, etc. but we try to eat local wherever we go. So after a quick Yelp! search we came across Hi D Ho Drive In. Intrigued by the name and the menu, we had to try it.

The burger was about the size of my head! And man it tasted like a drive-in burger should taste. That well-seasoned grilled taste only amplified by the kick you get from adding a hatch chili topping. Wow! A local favorite, it’s easy to see why the wait was so long, but trust me it’s worth it!


After all that heat you’re going to want something a little sweet right?!

We drove by Caliche’s on the way to the KOA and knew we had to try it!

Two words y’all: FROZEN CUSTARD. Calories don’t count for that my friends.

Anthony loves anything and everything Oreo, so he went with the Sand Box. While my eyes were WAY bigger than my stomach and went with the Mount Brownie. Yah, I had dessert two nights in a row y’all.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you want an extra diamond on your Gems of the Road rating, be dog-friendly. Well Caliche’s you get a gold star in Butters’s book. She enjoyed her puppy cone for being a good girl in the drive-thru.

White Sands National Park needs to be added to your bucket list yesterday. It’s the perfect stop on your way to Carlsbad Cavern. But don’t be surprised if you wished you had stayed longer. There is a lot more to see in the area than you’d think, and we regretted not allowing ourselves more time to explore the area! The White Sands Missile Range is right down the road where you can visit the Trinity Site, home of the world’s first atomic bomb! We also wish we had made time to check out the New Mexico Museum of Space History, located in Alamogordo.

So until our next visit, I’ll be dreaming of a white sands, hatch chilis, and missiles.

Happy Trails,

The Traveling Tiongsons

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