No Frills Trip Itineraries are curated by me. I search the internet, use my personal experiences, and contact my friends to find you the best spots and hidden gems! Please note that websites often change and if you find one that is now extinct, let me know! Have something to add? Leave a comment, and I’ll make sure to add it to the trip for the next person.
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This trip you’re viewing was designed for a family with teens and pre-teens, leaving from Missouri.
NOTE: White Sands has certain closures due to testing at the White Sands Missile Range nearby. The park is usually closed for no more than 3 hours at a time. If you plan to visit, call the visitor center at 575-479-6124 to find out closure dates and times. You can also visit this page here, for the next upcoming closure.
- Drive to Amarillo (9-10 hour drive)
- Stop to take photos at Cadillac Ranch https://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/2220
- Eat at Big Texan https://www.bigtexan.com/72oz-steak-rules/
- Stay the night at one of these top campgrounds https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotels-g30165-c3-zff29-Amarillo_Texas-Hotels.html
- Drive to Carlsbad Caverns (5 hours from Amarillo)
- Self tour 1.5 hours: https://www.nps.gov/cave/planyourvisit/selfguided_tours.htm
- Visit the visitor center
- Stay at one of these top campgrounds https://rvshare.com/blog/top-10-campgrounds/carlsbad-caverns/
- Do a guided tour of the Caverns. They start at 8:30 and the last one is at 1:30. (book in advance!): https://www.nps.gov/cave/planyourvisit/tour_schedule.htm or https://www.recreation.gov/ or https://www.recreation.gov/tourSearchResult.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=77813
Roswell Tour MUST BOOK in advance! (about 2 hours from Carlsbad)
- Drive to Roswell (2 hour drive)
- I highly recommend camping here. Swim, SUP, SCUBA at this cool state park! http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/spd/bottomlesslakesstatepark.html
- Tour Roswell! http://www.roswellufotours.com/
- Other camping options: https://www.allstays.com/Campgrounds/nm-roswell-campgrounds.htm
White Sands (3 hour drive from Roswell)
CAMPING OPTIONS (with map!): https://www.nps.gov/whsa/planyourvisit/upload/area_camping_final_11_15_10.pdf
- Do a tour or an event!
- BOOK A TOUR! There are a lot of options night and day both.
Lake Lucero Tour (3 hours) https://www.recreation.gov/tourDetails.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=147240&tourId=443271&cat=1
- Check out the calendar! https://www.nps.gov/whsa/planyourvisit/calendar.htm
- Bring a sled! Here is where and how to sled: https://www.nps.gov/whsa/learn/photosmultimedia/videos.htm
- Hike! DO NOT HIKE ALONE. The sands shift, so always stick together.
Here are the park trails: https://www.nps.gov/whsa/planyourvisit/trails.htm
- Fun for younger kids. Get a pack: https://www.nps.gov/whsa/learn/kidsyouth/adventure-packs.htm
- Websites to help you narrow down some things:
https://www.nps.gov/whsa/index.htm (maps, prices, etc)
- Full Moon Night! July 27th, 8:30 p.m. https://www.nps.gov/whsa/planyourvisit/full-moon-night.htm
- Super fun, nearby, side trips:
- Missile museum! http://www.wsmr-history.org/
- Pistachios. Wine. Who knew??? https://www.pistachioland.com/
- Drive home
CAMERA TIPS AND PACKING LIST:
- Get a polarized filter!
SPECIALIZED PACKING LIST:
- Sleds and snowboards. A rope is also recommended to help pull each other up the hills.
- LOTS of lip balm w/ SPF in it.
- A whistle for emergencies.
- Fully charged cell phones. Reception is spotty.
- A charged flashlight for after dark activities/hikes/ranger talks.
- Fill up that tank of gas! Stations are few and far between!
- Know the weather forecast. Summer can be full of lightning or rain storms.
- Sunglasses sunglasses sunglasses! Polarized is best. Trust me.
- Wet/dry bags for all your items you’ll take to White Sands. Sand gets EVERYWHERE.
- Baby powder. Will help get the sand off you!
- Jackets or coats for cave (56 degrees).
- Sturdy shoes that are closed-toed for cave.
- LOTS of water/bottles, camelbak packs, etc (more than you’d think–it’s hot and dry!)
- Food that is high in salt and sugar (snacks, Gatorade).
- Outside washing hose due to sand. I would shower at the campground, not in a camper.
- Stuff to go on a picnic at the monuments.
- Sometimes it gets really cold at night. Make sure your camper has anything you’d want for a fall MIssouri night! (i.e. blankets, heat, etc)