White Sands

(White Sands NM)
In the middle of the Tularosa Basin, about half way between Las Cruces and Alamogordo NM, lies 275 square miles of gypsum sand dunes. It’s the largest such dune field in the world and has been set aside as White Sands National Monument.

Motorhome in front of sand dunes

Tardis at White Sands

The huge dunes are constantly growing and shifting, as much as 30 feet per year. The composition of the sand prevents a build up of heat. So, it was rather cool when I was there during mid-morning. BTW, the dune behind Tardis was actually much taller than the rig, and small compared to others in the park.

White road, white dunes

Roadway through the dunes

I drove the 16 mile round trip, half of which is paved, to explore the glistening white mounds. The non-paved portion is hard packed gypsum sand, like what you find in sheetrock. It’s a bit odd when the road and the surrounding landscape is all white. Kind of like driving through snowdrifts, but without the slippery.

Sand dunes with mountains beyond

Dunes with San Andres Mountains

You might think the area lifeless. But, there are many critters and plants that survive there. Fox, coyotes, lizards, snakes, moths, rabbits, beetles and birds; yucca, verbana and others live there. Most have adapted to be lighter in color to improve their survival rate. Below the surface is a pool of water that stabilizes the dunes, and provides moisture for the habitat.

Tall sand dunes and plants

Sand dunes with plants

I took a short hike out onto the dunes at the Back Country Camping Trail. Every so often a pole would be sticking up out of the sand to indicate where to go next. Otherwise, it would be way too easy to get disoriented. I didn’t venture too far.

Multiple sand dunes receding

Waves of sand dunes

It was a short visit, as I was on my way to the next camp and adventure. Along the way, I resupplied the cupboard and filled up on propane. The next few days would be dry camping, so I wanted to be prepared.

Camp: 3 Rivers-BLM drycamp
Scene: Desert, sand dunes

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12 Responses to White Sands

  1. Gypsy February 19, 2014 at 8:27 pm #

    My goodness, you could get lost in that white sand and never find your way out!

    • Pleinguy February 20, 2014 at 8:08 pm #

      Which is precisely why I didn’t hike too far into the dunes. It doesn’t take long for every direction to start looking similar.

  2. J. RICHARD SECOR February 20, 2014 at 12:21 am #

    A beautiful area of NM which we visited several times during our 5 years living in NM.
    Great photos!

    • Pleinguy February 20, 2014 at 8:12 pm #

      Thanks for the compliment on the pix. It was difficult trying to get shots with some variety.

  3. Dragonfly February 23, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

    Did you see what looked like someone had swept the sand with a broom? Porcupines, no kidding.I spoke to a ranger who told me to be sure and not let the dog off the lead. I guess there are dog run ins with porcupines and the dogs don’t fair so well. I asked what the heck do they eat, he said the nasty little scrub brush and a few other things is enough for a good population. Are you going to Cloudcroft?

    • Pleinguy February 23, 2014 at 5:32 pm #

      Didn’t see evidence of any wildlife; heard most come out at night. Went through Cloudcroft last year, but didn’t stop; looked like a ski town.

  4. Brad February 24, 2014 at 9:22 am #

    Cool stuff! I remember visiting the sand dunes in the early 70s as a little boy. As I recall, we had sand in our clothes afterwards. LOL. It’s really peaceful out there. Tardis looks sharp!

    • Pleinguy February 24, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

      Yeah, I was warned about the invasiveness of the sand. A friend told me of a time he went there to take photos; when he got home his camera was filled with sand.

  5. Rob February 28, 2014 at 12:25 am #

    If you like to paint and you’re hanging around NM, suggest you get up around the Abiqui area (Georgia O’Keefe) for a bit also.

    • Pleinguy February 28, 2014 at 5:26 am #

      That’s an area I want to see at some time. Probably late in the year or sometime next.

  6. Rob February 28, 2014 at 12:27 am #

    email me robert.richmond@comcast.net if you get up into the northern NM area. I’ve got a little place you can set up if you’re interested.

    • Pleinguy February 28, 2014 at 5:21 am #

      Thanks for the invite Rob. I’ll keep that in mind.

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