"The Low Glow of White Sands National Monument" Top 5 Page for this destination White Sands National Monument by richiecdisc

White Sands National Monument Travel Guide: 116 reviews and 288 photos

White Sands National Monument may not be home to the highest sand dunes in the world but these hills are made of gypsum and in that department, this is the biggest patch of that mineral in the form of sand anywhere on the planet. Gypsum dissolves in water so it takes a particularly arid climate for dune formation to last for an appreciable time. When you are talking about 275 square miles of such dunes, some reaching heights of 60 feet, you are talking one awe-inspiring sight. But it's not just white sand here though to the naked eye that's what it looks like, running into infinity.

the squeaky sound of sand between your toes

There are a variety of plants and small creatures particularly adapted to this inhospitable terrain. The park is set up for day trippers with no organized camping and gates locked at sunset to sunrise. Though you can explore it adequately in a half day, to truly appreciate its intricacies and even splendor, one needs to be here in the low light hours just before sunrise and after sunset, when the park is officially closed. Suddenly, a park seemingly designed for the tour bus set becomes the playground of the intrepid backpacker. Camping in the dunes for even one night allows for a magical experience; this is when the hearty creatures that call this place home come out to make a living, the gypsum turns from white to glowing red, and the squeaky sound of the sand between your toes is all you hear besides the wind.

  • Last visit to White Sands National Monument: Apr 2008
  • Intro Updated May 24, 2009
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Reviews (21)

Comments (9)

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Feb 14, 2010 at 4:31 AM

    Fantastic photos of this unique area! Since gypsum dissolves in water it must be really dry there, to allow those white gypsum dunes to develop and endure. Good for Herbert Hoover for designating this as a protected National Monument in 1933.

  • jumpingnorman's Profile Photo
    Jun 24, 2009 at 10:01 AM

    Awesome pictures of the White Sands - we just discovered it last April and the twins liked your lizard picture...that was cool you set up tent there, hehehe...Norman :)

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    Jun 18, 2009 at 7:28 AM

    Fantastic photos Richie - that opening shot is awesome! The "lonely yucca" one too, oh and ALL the evening ones! I have immediately added White Sands to my wish-list for a future trip.

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    Jun 3, 2009 at 5:58 AM

    Wow Richie, now I know why I too have always wanted to visit White Sands National Monument! Gorgeous photos, excellent tips, awesome place!!

  • mircaskirca's Profile Photo
    May 27, 2009 at 12:40 PM

    The sand dunes look amazing!! They remind me on some that I visited in the north and central Brazil. The campgrounds were a real find - I can understand your happiness about it :) Your beautiful pictures perfectly reflect the magic of the place :)

  • Trekki's Profile Photo
    May 25, 2009 at 8:36 PM

    Oh this is fantastic, Richie :-))) I love all your photos, this bluish white is exceptionally beautiful!! Powdered Gatorade, something I should consider to buy. And sledging in the sand, what a funny idea :-)

  • Sharrie's Profile Photo
    May 24, 2009 at 5:39 AM

    I love some of the shots you took here. Perfect lighting & perspective. Really nice to see you've improved with age, hehe... Well, glad that u've a great time here & a nice story to share with us!

  • Gili_S's Profile Photo
    May 22, 2009 at 6:30 AM

    Great adventures, walking a dune sands is almost like deep snow ;-)

  • DoreenDe's Profile Photo
    May 21, 2009 at 3:31 PM

    wait... did I really read that..."skip the beer..." ?! Who are you & what did you do to my husband?!

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