White Sands National Monument

a magical sea of sand

DSCN0106I have wanted to visit White Sands every since I read “Gone with the Wynns” RV blogpost 3 years ago.

This is the largest gypsum dune field in the world, located in the Tularosa Basin in southern New Mexico.  The massive collection of gypsum resulted from changes in ancient landscapes that started before the time of the dinosaurs.  Some 250 million years ago, what is now New Mexico was covered by a shallow sea, but the sea’s level eventually fell as the area began to dry.  The thick layers of gypsum settled onto the old sea floor.  About 7,000 years ago , the gypsum began to form dunes, and they continue to shift today, some of them moving as much as 30 feet per year.

Unlike silica sand, gypsum does not absorb heat from the sun.  So even on the hottest day, the dunes are cool and comfortable.   Gypsum is actually a clear substance, the dunes appear white like snow because the grains are constantly banging into each other.  The scratches then reflect the sun’s rays making them appear white.

Sledding is a popular activity!  I just had to try it.

Hard to believe that any vegetation could survive, but there are many drought tolerant plant species.

The beautiful white wonderland against the blue sky is unbelievably surreal.  But it is real.  A must for every bucket list!

As my Canadian friend Judy would say, “Pretty cool, eh?”

 

 

3 thoughts on “White Sands National Monument”

  1. We spent a few hours there one year on vacation, one of these days we’ll be back. Mother Nature never ceases to amaze me with her tenacity.

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