"WHITE SANDS NATIONAL MONUMENT" Top 5 Page for this destination Whitesands National Monument Tip by mtncorg

  Walking on the White Sands
by mtncorg

The largest gypsum dunefield in the world occupying 300 square miles of soft - except after a cold winter rain hardens it up - white sand. The dunes are surrounded by the desert wastes of the Tularosa Basin which is rimmed by the mountains of the Sacramento and San Andres chains. The basin formed with the Rocky Mountain uplift of 70 million years ago. Rainfall washed gypsum down from the mountains and wind chipped the gypsum into fine flakes creating an everchanging sea of white dunes. There is a fascinating Visitor Center at the entrance. Several picnic shelters can be found along the 16 mile loop. Camping is limited to one backcountry site - permit needed from the Visitor's Center. Hiking and playing among the 60 foot dunes is much like gamboling about in the snow, without the cold and wet. To the east, quite in incongruous contrast, silent black F-17 Stealth fighters play above the dunes out of the nearby Holloman Air Force Base - a training center for not only American fliers but German Luftwaffe, as well. Special Note: Due to missile testing on the adjacent White Sands Missile Range, it is occasionally necessary, for visitor safety,to close the Dunes Drive for periods of up to two hours. U.S. Highway 70/82 between Alamogordo and Las Cruces is also closed during times of missile testing. $3 per 7 days visit.

Address: P.O. Box 1086, Holloman AFB, NM 88330
Directions: U.S. 70/82, 15 miles (24.15km) southwest of Alamogordo and 52 miles east of Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Phone: (505) 679-2599
Website: http://www.nps.gov/whsa

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Mar 23, 2004
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