"White Sands National Monument" Top 5 Page for this destination United States of America Things to Do Tip by richiecdisc

United States of America Things to Do: 953 reviews and 1,331 photos

  White Sands at dawn
by richiecdisc

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.

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.

Directions: New Mexico

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jun 18, 2010
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