Today on The Wizard Life I visit the White Sands National Monument.
I've been wanting to check out this place out for many years, and happened to drive right by it while moving to a new camp in the desert, so I decided to stop and do a little exploring.
The first thing I noticed was how quickly the landscape transitions from the standard flat brown desert of New Mexico to towering bright white sand dunes. I was literally able to have one foot on each at the same time.
Here is the view of the flat desert behind me after climbing the first sand dune:
Once on top of the first dune and facing away from the desert I felt like I had suddenly been transported to a completely different world. My mind kept thinking it was a lot like visiting the planet Hoth, but without the need to seek shelter from the cold inside a smelly tauntaun.
I quickly came across some rock walls made up of the compacted sand with some plants growing on top. They had the same consistency of a salt lick you give to horses or cows. Even just lightly running my hands over the surface caused large amounts of the white sand to fall to the ground.
I drove deeper into the area and the roads transitioned from concrete to compacted sand hard enough for even sportscars to easily drive on.
I did some research and discovered that these dunes are almost entirely made up of Gypsum.
The area is in a basin between two mountains with no outlet to the sea. Gypsum is water soluble and it's picked up by the water as it flows down and then left behind when the water evaporates and recedes into the ground. Repeat that cycle for a few million years and you end up The White Sands National Monument!
The National Park makes up a small percentage of the dunes which stretch on for miles. Most of it is actually a military missile testing zone, and the first place humanity detonated a nuclear bomb...
I recorded a video of my adventure as well:
Thanks for stopping by!