Update December 2019: White Sands National Monument has now been declared a National Park
Today, on a pure whim, we traveled about 50 miles northeast of Las Cruces, NM to visit White Sands National Monument.
One of the advantages of traveling the country by car is being able to visit all of the national parks and monuments along the way.
And although we haven’t been able to hit all of them, we certainly try to visit as many as we can.
So when we learned that the White Sands National Monument was within an hour driving distance from our campground, we jumped at the chance to go and visit.
However, we had no idea what we were about to see.
We have learned that national monuments, aren’t always buildings, structures, or statues. In fact, designating an area as a national monument sometimes is done to preserve historical land.
And this is exactly the case with the White Sands area in the Tularosa Basin.
The 275 square miles of white sand dunes is composed of gypsum crystals. And this gypsum dune field is the largest of its kind found anywhere on Earth.
And today, not only did we get to drive through the area, we also were able to get out and walk on the dunes.
White Sands National Monument
When we arrived to the visitor’s center we were shocked at how many people where there to visit.
But when we thought about it being the weekend before Christmas, we realized that many people were probably passing through the area.
We drove to the admission gate, showed our National Parks Pass, and began to make the 8 mile loops around the dunes.
However, within a couple of miles, we were out out of the truck and hiking the dunes.
The white sand was super fine and cold to the touch. As long as you were walking on compacted areas, it was an easy hike.
But there were several areas of thick, loose sand that required you to use extra effort to hike to the top of the dunes.
Although it was a little strenuous, we made it to the top of several dunes. And in the distance, we could see several other visitors carrying disc sleds to the top of the hills.
As we began to scan the area, you could find both children and adults sledding down the sand hills.
It truly was an amazing sight to see! And although it looked tempting, we decided to just watch the others rather than participate ourselves.
Although we found the sledding fun to watch, it was the climb back up to the top of the dunes that truly made us laugh.
Have You Heard Of White Sands?
And for those wondering why the term White Sands sounds familiar, the National Monument is within 20 miles of the Missile Test Launch Site and the back up Space Shuttle Landing site.
In fact, the Boeing Starliner, which launched this past Friday in an effort to deliver supplies to the International Space Station, aborted it’s mission within 48 hours of taking off. And it landed just hours before our arrival to New Mexico at the White Sands Missile Range on Sunday.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to view the landing, but it was truly impressive driving by the top secret fields on our way to White Sands National Monument.
You never know what you are going to see while on the road!
Happy Traveling – Jim and Mary
CURRENT TRIP STATUS TO DATE:
- Day 106 of 365
- States : 14 / 50
- National Parks / Monuments : 17
- Stayed In : Las Cruces, New Mexico
- Miles Driven : 129.3
- Total Trip Miles To Date : 11,588.1
- Total Gallons Used : 845.84
- Biking Miles : 0.0
- Biking Miles To Date : 142.5
- Hiking Miles : 2.4
- Hiking Miles To Date : 259.6
About Our Living Simple Tour
On September 9th, 2019, we set out in our NuCamp T@B 400 Teardrop Camper to travel to every state. You can check out all of our dates here : Dates for the States