Several years ago, I discovered White Sands National Monument, thanks to Instagram. I immediately added it to my list of places to visit and kept hoping that some job would take us in the vicinity of southern New Mexico. It took slightly longer than I’d hoped to get there, but sometimes waiting makes it all the sweeter, doesn’t it?
I’ve been to a handful of dunes now and was expecting these to be challenging to walk on. Not only was it the height of summer, but it was also 100 degrees outside — which would make sand unbearable to touch. However, these dunes are not made of sand, but gypsum crystals! It was cool to the touch and compacted differently than sand does. It was truly beautiful, like walking on mounds of sugar or a life-size sand garden – very zen!
I could’ve spent hours walking around. My children, however, wanted to slide down the hills. We didn’t have room to bring sleds on this road trip, but luckily the park office sells them new/used plus allows returns for 1/3 the price. It was well worth it! (TIP: some of the hotels in Alamogordo have some to borrow as well.)
The park service also offers a free sunset walking tour, which I’d planned to take. Unfortunately, just as it was about to begin, a huge tour bus showed up. What started as a handful of people turned into a gigantic group! We weren’t in the mood for that, so we decided to drive through the park and walk around alone. I would’ve enjoyed learning about the history and geology of the area, but will have to get that on our next visit. Either way, it was pretty spectacular exploring on our own and the children had a blast.
White Sands is an otherworldly location. It felt completely magical from the moment we arrived and swore we were looking at snow; but especially as the sun set and the hills turned from bright white to gold. We drove away with an orange sun on our tail, pockets full of sandy white crystals and a plan to return in the not too distant future.