White Sands National Park Rangers Find Man’s Body Off Trail

by Jon D. B.

White Sands National Park rangers began their search after discovering an unoccupied vehicle over the Independence Day weekend.

The 4th of July turned tragic at New Mexico’s White Sands National Park (WHSA) after the discovery of a man’s body. First, WHSA rangers spotted an unoccupied vehicle in the park. This led to a search and rescue operation near the vehicle’s location. Not long after, at 11:02 AM, Tuesday, July 6, teams discovered a deceased male’s body off-trail.

Currently, New Mexico State Police, the lead agency, is investigating the incident. A positive identification on the body is not public at this time. The park is warning, however, that visitors should take extra precautions in “extreme summer heat.”

Soaptree yucca with dried flower stalks and seed pods in the dunes of White Sands National Park, New Mexico. (Photo by: Jon G. Fuller/VWPics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

“During the extreme summer heat, it is critical to be prepared and know your limitations,” WHSA asks future visitors after the man’s death. “For summer hiking at White Sands, the park recommends starting in the coolest part of the day, early morning or early evening.”

In addition, the park asks that visitors not start a hike when the temperature is at or above 85 degrees F. As rangers state, no shade or water is available along any of the trails in White Sands.

Crucial White Sands National Park Safety Highlighted by Man’s Death

WHSA officials also recommend that hikers bring at least one gallon of water per person per day. High­ energy snacks are also crucial in the desert.

To protect yourself from the sun, always wear a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. Long sleeves and long pants are best.

Remember to always have a plan when you hike. Always carry your cell phone, and tell someone who is not in your party where you are hiking and when you plan to return. If you become lost, stop and stay where you are. Then call 911 immediately.

A typical pueblo-style arched gate at the Visitor Center at White Sands National Park, New Mexico. In the background are the residences for the park rangers. (Photo by: Jon G. Fuller/VWPics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

As the investigation continues into this summer death, White Sands National Park would like to thank White Sands Missile Range, U.S. Army, Holloman Air Force Base, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, New Mexico State Police, New Mexico Search and Rescue, and affiliated groups for their assistance in the search and recovery operation.

For more information on safety precautions in WHSA, head to the park’s NPS site here. The National Park Service app is another excellent resource for trips to any NPS park.