ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (KRQE) – Despite the ongoing pandemic, one attraction in New Mexico is seeing record visitation yet again. In year two of the pandemic, White Sands National Park saw more than 780,000 visitors — a number that keeps growing year to year. “It’s an extremely magical place and I think it’s become so popular with people. It definitely is a destination for, not just citizens here in New Mexico, but people all around the country and even internationally,” said park ranger Kelly Carroll.

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In 2020, White Sands National Park saw about 415,000 visitors. The National Parks Service says that almost doubled in 2021 with more than 782,000 visitors from around the world. Carroll says the designation of White Sands as a national park in 2019, is most likely the reason for the increase.

Unlike many places right now, you won’t notice any differences in your visit because of the pandemic. “It has been a place where we can get out and we can safely be around family. And we can get outside and we can let the troubles that we deal with all the time maybe go away for a couple hours,” said Carroll.

Nearby towns are also feeling the boost. According to a National Park Service report, in 2020, visitors spent $22.5 million in nearby communities with more than 360,000 more guests in 2021, spending is, of course, also expected to have jumped. Carroll says they see the most visitors in the spring, summer and love the holidays when a lot of people are traveling. The previous record for visitation was pre-pandemic in 2019 when the park welcomed more than 608,000 visitors.