Dreams of Dunes – White Sands Monument, NM

White sands to infinity

It was all very “Lawrence of Arabia“. There we were surrounded by dunes, rolling and curling like great white waves to infinity, shadowed only by grey-blue mountains on the horizon. In the very middle of this surrealistic scene, under blazing heat and skies too blue to express in words we walked in bare feet across the still-cool sand. Had we worn flowing robes we could easily have been mistaken for nomads in the Arabian desert. As it was, we were smack in the middle of White Sands National Monument in New Mexico.

Deep blue and white. Parked by the dunes.

White Sands is one of those special spots where time moves and stands still at the same time. Located in the heart of the massive Tularosa Basin in Southern New Mexico, here lie 275 square miles (~710 km²) of the world’s largest, living gypsum dune fields. And it really makes no sense.

Soaptree yucca

Logic says this stuff shouldn’t be here. Gypsum, you see, is soluble in water and normally washes away to sea. The unique geology of the Tularosa Basin however, provides no outlet and so the minerals washed down from the surrounding mountains dry out and crystallize right here to stay. The fine white sands shift, move, cement and dissolve with the cycles of nature creating dunes that are forever alive, yet forever here.

This place is, quite literally, a freak of nature and it’s a superbly cool experience to visit.

I originally wanted to do a sunset stroll, but high winds kept the sands in movement right up until Tuesday morning where a brief, hot window opened up for the drive. We braved the sun for a 8-mile drive in the park and romp in the sand, marvelling at the plants and rare animals that are able to survive this extreme environment.

And what a great trip it was! The drive leads you into a white fairytale and a short walk into the dunes has you completely surrounded by sand and in a world of your own. Here you can lose yourself in the heavy beat of the sun, the cool feel of gypsum through your toes, and faraway dreams of Arabia. Just remember to come on back, now….

Sand Verbena

Driving into the dunes
The shifting winds of change
A surrealistic landscape
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  1. Sandie Dixon says

    We were so amazed when we stopped here. I thought all the little picnic gazebo areas looked like ice fishing houses on the ice. Just an incredible experience.

    • libertatemamo says

      Oh how fun!! We didn’t go skiiing, but we definitely did a little “butt-sliding” around the dunes. Alot of fun!

    • libertatemamo says

      We didn’t make it to Sunspot, but our campground (Oliver Lee) has an excellent view of the whole valley. So, we’ve been well spoiled:)

  2. says

    Hmmm we were just 6 miles down the road at Holloman and you guys didn’t even say hey……… White Sands is such a cool place, love the fact you can walk barefoot on the dunes when the temps are so high. Great pics also.

    • libertatemamo says

      Bummer we missed ya! We’re in City of Rocks now, but still thinking of all the fun we had at White Sands. You guys coming this way? Nina

  3. says

    Woops, sorry guys, hit the wrong blog, thought you were a someone else. However if you want to see some really cool sites in the area,off the beaten path, let me know, I’ll point you in the right direction.

    • libertatemamo says

      No worries! Actually we love to meet people on the road, so always up for it whether we know ya or not :) We’re headed North from here (through to Santa Fe) so if you got any cool spots, we’ll definitely take ’em! Feel free to suggest away.

  4. jil mohr says

    Our first visit there was with our dog….Hannah….when she got out of the truck she was so excited that she just jumped into the sand and started licking it, thinking it was snow….really a very funny sight…we are going back on our way east when we leave her in about 10 days….sorry we will miss you….


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