Friday, February 1, 2013

White Sands National Monument

WARNING: Photo-intensive post

Spent a busy morning doin’ household chores.  I awoke to an empty propane tank, full holding tanks, and a gas tank at ½ that needed some $2.99 gas.  Since gasoline accounts for 77% of my travel costs, if I can find it for less than $3 per gallon, I don’t grumble too much.   

Then  I was free to spend the rest of the day at White Sands National Monument.  If you are in the vicinity, go there immediately!  What an experience!  The landscape is an almost unimaginable 275 square miles of sand.  Gorgeous, white, sugary sand.  Add a desert mountain backdrop, and you really got something.

Salinas Peak in the background

250 million years ago, this place was at the bottom of a shallow sea.  Then, about the time the Rockies were formed, the marine deposits lifted into a giant dome and ultimately collapsed and formed this vast basin.  With no river to drain the deposits, the gypsum that forms the sand is trapped in the basin. 
Here’s the thing: as a result of the wind, the dunes are continuously changing and always advancing.  Yet, a handful of living beings have made this unstable and harsh environment home. 

Like this!

Only a few plant species are able to grow fast enough to avoid burial by the ever-encroaching dunes.

Here's an interesting one - the Soaptree Yucca.  It survives the enveloping sand because of its ability to grow upward.  Quickly. 
Visitors are encouraged to walk, climb, roll around, and generally tromp about.  We are also encouraged to look for animal prints.  I'm thinking this must be the horned lark.  This was easy, as the species list is a short one.
You are also encouraged to rent a sled and act like a kid again.

The dog was having the most fun.  Running up and down the dunes at high speed.

The high today was 58 – perfect weather for this part of the desert.  I made some lunch here.

 This may be the coolest picnic area I've ever seen.

The GDB traveled the 8 miles through the dunes. 

A plow operates every day, to keep the road passable.  Just like a snowplow.

Heroic indeed. 


  1. That sand looks so white it does look like SNOW ! Amazing !

  2. ah ... good to visit here again. Isn't it something? that picnic area was just surreal. I took a picture of my trying to walk up a dune... HAhaaaa.... I left some pretty large prints of my bottom and hands ... haaa

  3. We enjoyed the mini dunes in Death Valley. Looking forward to seeing these some day! Thanks for the ride along.

  4. We love this place so much! Been several times now, never gets old. It always freaks us out driving on those rods since it looks like snow covered roads. Funny!

  5. What a cool place! I'd like to have a picnic at one of those shelters; I agree with you, I've never seen anything like them.

    That little dog must have had a TON of energy. I've walked around a lot of sand dunes - and they are not fun to go up. I would like to try sliding down though, that sounds like fun.

  6. Oh, those pictures are so gorgeous! That place is high on my list...maybe next year.

    LOVE that Edward Abbey quote...a man after my own heart!

  7. I agree this is a do not miss place. Went once as a kid then once to take our kid. Everyone who goes there, I think, instantly becomes a kid again. I dare all your reader to go there and try not to play. :)

  8. Oh, Kim! What a gorgeous place! I can't imagine being somewhere where it's okay to run, glide, skid, roll around and just revel in your surroundings!

    And that photo of the GDB at home in the dunes is spectacular.

    You really should do ads for Roadtrek! :)

  9. Bring sunglasses...

  10. Your pictures are so clear and the view so magnificent they don't look real. I love your fan by the way. Looks right at home amongst all the glowing white sand!

  11. I love your blogs so much that I read it over and over . Everytime it's like a new story to me , and it motivates me to just keep on RV-ing in my Roadtrek 190 Versatile to find new lokations to visit and you defently help me to find them , thanks ! EeJay .


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