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White Sands National Monument

White Sands Area, New Mexico

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White Sands National Monument

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  • Footsteps on a sand dune in White Sands National Monument.- White Sands National Monument
  • Expansive dunes in White Sands National Monument.- White Sands National Monument
  • Some of the dunes in White Sands National Monument are quite high.- White Sands National Monument
  • Rest area and picnic shelters in White Sands National Monument.- White Sands National Monument
  • Sun sets over the San Andreas Mountains- White Sands National Monument
  • Vegetation is sparse in the dunes- White Sands National Monument
  • A close up of the beautiful lines created by these dunes. The San Andreas Mountains reside in the distance.- White Sands National Monument
  • There is so much form and contrast in the dunes during the late and early morning hours.- White Sands National Monument
  • Yucca watch the sunset at White Sands National Monument.- White Sands National Monument
  • A backcountry campsite in White Sands National Monument. The sites are low and separated by a few dunes.- White Sands National Monument
  • A reptile's tracks scaling the dune.- White Sands National Monument
  • Yucca in White Sands National Monument.- White Sands National Monument
  • There is so much form and contrast in the dunes during the late and early morning hours.- White Sands National Monument
  • Close up of the dunes and the San Andreas Mountains.- White Sands National Monument
  • Solitude can be found here under the stars.- White Sands National Monument
  • Sunrise over the San Andreas Mountains and White Sands National Monument.- White Sands National Monument
  • Up close, the dunes almost look delicious.- White Sands National Monument
  • This perspective gives the dunes the look of whipped cream.- White Sands National Monument
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Enchanting white sand dunes. Solitude.
Cons: 
Dusty at times. High temperatures.
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Region:
White Sands Area, NM
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
General Day Use Fee
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Fall
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Pro Contributor

White Sands National Monument is a gem in New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment. The park is comprised of 275 square miles of white sand dunes that are composed of gypsum crystals. Make sure to stop by the visitor center to learn about the history and geology of the dunes, and don't forget to pick up a sled. Sledding is allowed in the loop portion, where there is no vegetation. Leaving the visitor center, the road loops around the heart of the sand dunes in a short drive. There are three picnic areas and five hiking trails of various difficulty throughout the park.

White Sands is the largest dune field of its kind in the world, since gypsum is rarely found in the form of sand. Over time, rain dissolves gypsum and carries it down from the mountains that surround the Tularosa Basin. Because the particles of gypsum have nowhere to go, they accumulate into dunes. When it rains in this region, the water either sinks into the ground or forms pools on the surface that rapidly evaporate and leave selenite (a crystalline form of gypsum). The ground at Alkali Flat, located at the northern edge of the park, is covered with these crystals. Wind erosion then breaks them back into smaller particles. Because of the wind, dunes continuously change shape. Plants in the area can only be successful if they can grow quickly enough to avoid being buried.

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(1 within a 30 mile radius)

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