The White Sands National Monument is known as a U.S. National Monument positioned around Twenty-five kilometres south west of Alamogordo in western Otero County and northeastern Dona Ana County inside the state of New Mexico. National Monument lies a vast sea of glistening snow white dunes that continually draws visitors from across the world. The monument contains the world’s largest gypsum sand dune field — 275 square miles of fine white sand, formed by the prevailing winds into large ridge-like dunes. In its first year the park attracted 12,000 people, and today as many as 600,000 people visit the park annually.
Weathering and erosion breaks the crystals into sand-size grains that are carried away by the prevailing winds from the southwest, forming white dunes. The dunes are constantly being moved to the southwest and reshaped by these winds.
Because gypsum is a water soluble mineral, and is often carried by rivers away to the sea, a ideal coincidence of environmental conditions must exist to create a gypsum dune field. In additional to the snow white color, that turns elegant shades of pink and purple in the right light, gypsum sands differ from silica in being smoother and much less abrasive.
In contrast to some other desert sands, it’s cool to the touch, because of the high rate of evaporation of surface moisture it comes with the sands reflect, rather than absorb, the rays of the sun. The gypsum doesn’t readily convert the sun’s energy into warmth and for that reason can be walked upon safely with bare feet, even during the hottest summer season. At 1185 m over sea level, around 442 total square kilometers of dune areas and is regarded as the earth’s largest surface deposit of gypsum. In places accessible by car, children often use the sand hills for downhill sledding.
The Big Dune Nature trail, located on the edge of the dune field, allows for close observation of many of the plants and animals adapted to life there. Animals are especially active early in the moring and at dusk.
A lot of the wildlife of White Sands have developed night time practices to avoid predators and the desert temperature. A lot of fauna located at White Sands, such as lizards, pocket mice, crickets, toads, and beetles, own evolved white forms which are camoflauged because of their environment. Nevertheless, of the forty-four species of animals, twenty-six species of reptiles, six species of amphibians and almost one hundred groups of insects recorded on the monument, the vast majority possess regular coloration.
Through mid-April to mid-June desert wildflowers may be regularly be found in bloom. The claret cup cactus bloom through late April through mid-May, although cholla cacti begin blooming in mid-May. Several wildflowers grow in Fall, generally from mid-August till as late as November.
A number of the sand hills are high and steep enough to offer a great ride on the plastic tobaggan or maybe sled. Although many tourists try sledding on anything from carboard boxes to trash bags, you will want to carry your own sled for the greatest adventure.
Dune photography is ideal in the morning and evening once the sun is low on the horizon, creating fascinating shadows over the dunes. Camera meters could be tricked from the white sand, so it’s smart to meter slightly higher than what is reported by the light meter to stop getting the sands seem grey.
There is no lodging within the monument, but the town of Alamogordo, located 15 miles east of the park, has several hotels.