‘White Sands’ the name says it all
….the 275 square mile gypsum crystal sand dunes, located within the Tularosa Basin, really do need to be seen to be believed.
The drive leading up to the National Monument along the US 70, really doesn’t quite prepare you for the spectacle you witness when you arrive.
It’s quite bizarre driving into this amazing natural wonder, you wouldn’t feel out of place in thinking you should be donning your ski boots, but actually you are more likely to need your bathing costume and sunglasses.
After paying your entrance fee at the visitors centre ($5 per adult, children 15 and under are free), collect your Dunes Drive map and head off into shimmering oasis that awaits.
Amongst the dunes
The Dunes Drive is 8 miles (13km) long and (16 mile round trip), after 6 miles there is a 4 mile loop. From the visitors centre the trip should take about 45 minutes, but I’m sure you will be stopping at the many parking or pullout points scattered all along the route, to take in the amazing scenery.
You can easily see why the curious vista is a magnet for photographers, it’s like being on a James Bond movie set.
The walking trails
There are 5 walking trails within the monument with different levels of difficulty, one of which is along a boardwalk so is accessible with a wheelchair, pram or stroller. Keep in mind that it can get extremely hot out there, so take some water
If you have a sledge you must bring it along, at times it really appears to be snow underfoot, the gypsum sand smothers like a cosy blanket. Climb the dunes (that’s not as easy as it looks) sit on board and go for it, I’m sure you’ll be bargaining with the kids as to whose turn it is to take to the slopes.
Oddly as the gypsum sand crystals do not retain the heat, it is possible to walk upon the waves of the ever changing sand dunes in bare feet.
Make a day of it
Why not make a day of it and bring along the picnic hamper as well.
White Sands was established as a national monument in 1933 and also lays claim to being the largest gypsum dune field in the world.
For more information don’t forget to check out the National Parks Service site.
Inspired to visit the White Sands National Monument?
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