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PHOTOS: The Creamy, Sculpted Dunes Of White Sands National Monument

Landscape of White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico.

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Landscape of White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico.

Elissa Nadworny/NPR

Before we headed out on a latest highway outing for a Our Land series, we put a call out on amicable media, seeking for ideas of places we should go in Arizona and New Mexico. Shannon Miller’s idea unequivocally held a attention: “White Sands are a usually white gypsum ‘sand’ dunes in a world. They are indeed crystals and it is beautiful.”

How could we resist?

Tourists make photos outward a opening of White Sands National Park in New Mexico.

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Tourists make photos outward a opening of White Sands National Park in New Mexico.

Elissa Nadworny/NPR

There’s unequivocally no place like it on a planet: White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico. It’s a world’s largest gypsum dunefield, miles and miles of overwhelming white landscape.

Here are some things to know:

1. “Beautiful” — Shannon Miller’s outline — is an understatement. The landscape is fantastic and otherworldly. “It’s like you’re in another planet,” as park ranger Eugene Ibarra tells us. “The usually thing that reminds we that you’re still in universe Earth is that a sky is blue.”

Andrew Schwallie and Logan Poppell out for a 5 mile run by a dunes. They’re stationed circuitously during Holloman Air Force Base.

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Andrew Schwallie and Logan Poppell out for a 5 mile run by a dunes. They’re stationed circuitously during Holloman Air Force Base.

Elissa Nadworny/NPR

2. Most of a New Mexico dunefield indeed lies outward a bounds of a park. White Sands National Monument is lilliputian by a White Sands Missile Range, a troops contrast area for a U.S. Army, and many of a dunefield lies within that barb range. The world’s initial atomic explosve was detonated during a Trinity exam site in a barb range, only 65 miles north of this park, on Jul 16, 1945. Several weeks later, a U.S. forsaken atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Left: Cassi sets adult her powerful on tip of a dune. Right: Footprints in a sand.

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Left: Cassi sets adult her powerful on tip of a dune. Right: Footprints in a sand.

Elissa Nadworny/NPR

3. They’re not accurately a “only” white gypsum silt dunes in a world, though flattering close. The New Mexico dunes cover a immeasurable area: 275 block miles. The subsequent biggest gypsum dunefield is in Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas. Total dunefield area: about 3 block miles.

Families play on a dunes. 
At White Sands, dune sledding is speedy — they even sell cosmetic drifting saucers in a present shop.

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Families play on a dunes. 
At White Sands, dune sledding is speedy — they even sell cosmetic drifting saucers in a present shop.

Elissa Nadworny/NPR

4. The dunes are done of a soothing vegetable gypsum, laid down 250 million years ago when a southwestern U.S. was lonesome by a Permian Sea. Later, that seabed was pushed adult into a plateau that ring a dish that surrounds a area. Rainfall dissolves those deposits, carrying a gypsum down and replenishing these silt dunes, that change constantly with a winds.

A lady plays in a silt during a dusk nightfall stroll.

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A lady plays in a silt during a dusk nightfall stroll.

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5. Even when a object is broiling hot, a silt stays cold underneath your unclothed feet. That’s since a silt is white, so it reflects behind a feverishness and doesn’t catch it.

Left: Brittany Peterson goes barefoot. Right: Park Ranger Eugene Ibarra runs a soothing gypsum silt by his hands.

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Left: Brittany Peterson goes barefoot. Right: Park Ranger Eugene Ibarra runs a soothing gypsum silt by his hands.

Elissa Nadworny/NPR

6. There are signs warning that there’s no H2O accessible over a caller center, though it’s easy to forget only how revengeful this park can be — since it’s so beautiful. And people have died here. Just dual summers ago, a mom and a father didn’t move adequate H2O on their hike, and died along a Alkali Flat trail. Their 9-year-old son survived.

Park Ranger Ibarra poses for a portrait.

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Park Ranger Ibarra poses for a portrait.

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7. Because White Sands National Monument is right subsequent to White Sands Missile Range, a park spasmodic shuts down during barb testing. The park use also warns visitors to equivocate anything that looks like unexploded ordinance. Another neighbor is Holloman Air Force Base. Three years ago, an unmanned worker aircraft from Holloman crashed inside a park, spilling jet fuel and pinch debris. Cleanup and environmental remediation has been slow; that partial of a park is still off boundary to visitors.

Park visitors watch as a object sets over White Sands.

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Park visitors watch as a object sets over White Sands.

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8. Park rangers lead daily nightfall strolls by a dunes. Once a object goes down, a silt gets flattering cold underfoot. With a permit, we can also go horseback roving by a dunes. It’s quite BYOH.