"Snow in the desert?" Top 5 Page for this destination White Sands National Monument by toonsarah

White Sands National Monument Travel Guide: 116 reviews and 285 photos

It was the White Sands in part at least that brought us to New Mexico, and they did not disappoint.

Imagine a desert with dunes that stretch to the horizon, dotted with a few hardy plants and baking under a hot sun. Now imagine that the sand in this desert is not yellow, but as white as snow, and you will have some idea of what it is like here.

This place is truly a photographer’s paradise – but also a photographer’s great challenge. The best photos are to be had around dawn and dusk, but unless you want to camp (and back-country camping at that) this is not an option, as there is no other accommodation in the park. If like us you are staying instead in the nearest town, Alamogordo, you will want to make an early start to be here when the gates open at 7.00. At that time, especially by October when we visited, the sun is still low enough to cast interesting shadows among the dunes, and not so bright that it washes everything out in the harsh white glare.

Despite the name, this is not sand! The white crystals are in fact gypsum, and in this part of New Mexico the dunes cover 275 square miles of desert creating the world's largest gypsum dunefield. Not all of this though is part of the National Monument, as much of it is off-limits on the White Sands Missile Range – these wide open spaces are ideal for such activities it seems. But thankfully the National Monument does preserve a large portion of the dunefield and make it accessible for us all to enjoy.

I have not captioned any of my photos on the White Sands as I find the VT label strip intrusive and I think the subject matter is evident enough from my tips. But if you’re interested to know where a particular shot was taken do mail me and I’ll tell you what I can.

Please start your visit to the White Sands with the first of my things to do tips.

Pros and Cons
  • In a nutshell:Totally other-worldly - a must-see in New Mexico!
  • Last visit to White Sands National Monument: Oct 2011
  • Intro Updated Jan 22, 2012
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Reviews (8)

Comments (10)

  • yumyum's Profile Photo
    May 14, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    Awesome photos Sarah! This would be my kind of place as I love arid areas and deserts. I didn't get the impression that the picnic huts would give you lots of shade all day long.

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Mar 21, 2012 at 11:07 PM

    Sarah, You have taken some wonderful photos, I especially like the ones with some grass as a feature. I must say, I just can't imagine spending a day there and picnicing, would be awful if the wind came up!

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    Feb 18, 2012 at 6:16 AM

    Sarah, fascinating page about this sandy gem of New Mexico. Especially your photo tips are interesting to read. I definitely agree that for such a place the right time is important for taking such brilliant photos. Well done.

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Feb 18, 2012 at 5:33 AM

    That footprint photo is very appropriate – like the one on the moon made during the first landing.

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo
    Jan 26, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    Wow, what an amazing place! Your photos of the White Sands NP are so beautiful Sarah!

  • Dabs's Profile Photo
    Jan 25, 2012 at 7:43 AM

    Amazing photos, glad you got out there early so you could get undisturbed pics! Haven't been anywhere in the SW but I know whose pages to look at when we do :-)

  • spidermiss's Profile Photo
    Jan 23, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    Breathtaking! Love the photos:D Thanks for sharing:D x

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Jan 23, 2012 at 6:36 AM

    Kind of cool how those folks are enjoying their day there. We stopped here as kids. I can remember all the sand in my shoes. Glad you got to see and enjoy it. Wonderful page!

  • Trekki's Profile Photo
    Jan 23, 2012 at 2:04 AM

    Wow, your photos are truly amazing and would make a marvellous calendar! I can almost feel the gentle breeze and the quiet atmosphere in the mornings! Excellent photo advice, thank you! And the picknick spots look funny, but somehow fit into the landscape.

  • TheView's Profile Photo
    Jan 22, 2012 at 7:39 AM

    Cool pics :) I have great view like this just outside, but way to cold for the t-shirts!


“I slept on the strange pillows of my wanderlust (Joni Mitchell, "Amelia")”

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