White Sands National Monument
By Joslynn Romero, Girls Who Hike New Mexico Ambassador
Hidden in the Tularosa Basin located in Southern New Mexico you will find 275 square miles of gypsum sand dunes. The sand dunes are constantly changing with the howling winds building them up and blowing them away as the years go by. Every time you visit the park the landscape will look different. The gypsum is kept in place by water located inches below the surface this keeps the gypsum from blowing away.
I remember going on numerous field trips to White Sands when I was growing up, my classmates and I would board a school bus and drive the 238 miles from Las Vegas, NM to reach the dunes. Most kids would bring disks used for sledding out on to the dunes, talk about what it’s like to grow in the desert. This is a common site out on the dunes. When you leave you take gypsum home with you in about every place possible; shoes, pockets, hair, sometimes even your nose.
I don’t think I ever truly appreciated the beauty and mystery of this place as a child. Every time I return now, it just seems to get more amazing. It’s kind of like an ocean without the water, but blue is provided by the open skies.
The monument is open year round depending on weather and closed Christmas Day. Camping is available and there is a daily sunset stroll offered at 6:45 pm. This stroll is led by a monument employee. It is an informative free service that is offered by the monument. If you’re ever in New Mexico, it is a sight that should be experienced. It’s like you’ve stepped onto a different planet.