White Sand National Monument, New Mexico, USA
A feeling very similar to that of standing in the middle of Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, India where all ocean side has dried up and you can only see white salt all around.
White sand dunes is a scene very rare found on the earth surface. We got a chance to experience it at White Sand National Park, 52 miles northeast of La Cruces, NM. it is the largest gypsum dunefield in the world. We started at 5:30 am from La Cruces where we stayed the previous night. After grabbing hot chai tea latte from Starbucks we drove through mountains to reach here. Park opens at 7am and we were there 15 mins prior 🙂
There were just two cars when the gates opened and we were the first ones to enter the park. After crossing the adobe building gift shop on our right, I set up my gopro and we drove straight into the park. We were suddenly driving through this narrow road with white sand dunes on both sides and very less vegetation. These sand dunes baffled us with perception of snow until we stepped out. Sun was playing hide and seek behind the clouds just waking up and there were those glaring sun rays creating this white magic on these snow like small mountains.
We had the freedom to stop on these winding roads and capture this majestic sunrise with white gypsum sand dunes shining with the black mountains in the backdrop. We drove through and eventually parked at one of the picnic spots. We walked all the way up to the sand dunes where Aman captured some amazing shots and I captured the 360 view video. It was a beautiful view of white sand dunes in all directions giving a desert like feeling but it was all white.
White Sand National park is a must see for sunrise and sunset lovers. The sand is all gypsum with very minimum vegetation including soaptree yucca, shrubs and cactus. Camping is highly recommended and that’s on our list for next visit.
While driving out of the park, we saw some morning joggers, families with kids sliding down the sand dunes with snow slider sleds which can be rented out at the gift shop at the park entrance. Beware of the surroundings as there are reptiles in these white sand dunes which are camouflaged and are white in color. We stopped at the gift shop for some souvenirs and we saw lot of local artwork by Indian tribes around the area. Upon asking to meet these artists, we were told that some of the Indian reservations allow visitors but usually these artists are reserved in nature and don’t like talking much. Aman ended up buying beautiful humming bird shaped earrings.
One thing to note about our morning drive to the park was the feeling of this powerful force in the valley in front of the park which we later discovered was the US Army missile test facility. Later when we read the book “The house at Otowi bridge” by Peggy Pond church, we found that we were in the same state of NM, only 270 miles away where the first atomic bomb testing was done before it was dropped in Hiroshima. Interesting enough on this road trip we were unknowingly headed towards that site which was close to Espanola, NM.
Recommendations: Carry a pair of open sandals as sand will get into your shoes. Keep hydrated because of altitude and sun.