3-Day Carlsbad, Guadalupe and White Sands National Parks Itinerary

It was a year ago we took this trip, not knowing COVID would take over the world and wreck the rest of our travel plans for 2020. I look back at this trip often and I am so glad I took advantage of a 3-day holiday weekend to do it! The size and location of Carlsbad, Guadalupe and White Sands make them perfect for 3- or 4-day trip. It’s rare to be able to see this many national parks in such a short time!

How to get there

This itinerary is a loop starting and ending in El Paso, TX. El Paso is conveniently located about 3 hours west of Carlsbad and Guadalupe, and 90 minutes south of White Sands.

3-Day Itinerary

Day 1: Arrrive in El Paso, TX and drive to Carlsbad, NM

Day 2: Carlsbad Caverns in the a.m.

I recommend the King’s Palace ranger-lead tour (reserve in advance).

Day 2: Guadalupe Mountais in the p.m.

For short like, try the Smith Loop behind Frijole ranch.

Depending on your interests and schedule, you could reverse these and do a bigger hike in Guadalupe in the a.m. and visit Carlsbad Caverns in the p.m. Keep in mind ranger-lead tours at Carlsbad may not be available in the afternoon.

Day 3: White Sands National Park, depart from El Paso

The park is easily experienced on your own, but sunset, full-moon and star-gazing ranger-lead tours are available.

Here’s a high-level overview of the itinerary and where we overnighted. We spent the night in El Paso after our White Sands visit, making this a 4-day trip. To stick to a 3-day itinerary, fly out of El Paso in the afternoon of Day 3 instead of staying overnight.

DayItineraryHotel
1Arrive in El Paso, TX and drive to Carlsbad, NMHampton Inn & Suites, Carlsbad, NM
2Carlsbad National Park in the a.m.;
Guadalupe National Park in the p.m.
3White Sands National Park Doubletree by Hilton El Paso Downtown
4Depart El Paso, TX

The hotel recommendations in this post are my own – I am not getting paid for them. However, if you book a hotel from the links below, I may earn a commission. Please read our affiliate disclosure.

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