The magic of this place cannot be measured. It's white as far as your eye can see, almost hypnotizing. The dunes behind dunes behind dunes, creates such a vastness that continually reminds us that we are small.
The White Sands National Monument, around 275 square miles is the largest deposit of gypsum on the earth. This pocket was created because long before the Monument the area was actually at the bottom of the ocean where minerals like calcium and sulfur settled. Eventually when the sea dried up and the earth's surface moved, the Tularosa Basin was created. Weather filled the basin with water and moved the minerals to nearby Lake Otero.
Time passed and this lake dried up and the minerals were left again. Wind then moved these gypsum rocks across the desert which broke them down and over time created the super fine crystals you can now see at White Sands. All of the dunes are active and always on the move. Right now the fastest part of the desert is moving southeast at a rate of about 30 feet per year.
What's also pretty amazing is that they have an area of the Monument designated for camping. They say it's backpacking in but we had to hike less than a mile to our site. They have ten sites that are all very private from each other and are all on a first come first serve basis. To be able to walk around in the middle of the night with the sands illuminated with moonlight was one of the most surreal experience we've ever had. Simply breathtaking.
White Sands Monument
Alamogordo, New Mexico
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