Visiting the White Sands National Monument

in nomad •  3 months ago


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.

WhiteSandsEntrance

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:

WhiteSandsTransition

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.

WhiteSandsHoth

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.

WhiteSandsWall

I drove deeper into the area and the roads transitioned from concrete to compacted sand hard enough for even sportscars to easily drive on.

WhiteSandsSportsCar

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!

WhiteSandsGypsum

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!
@cahlen
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Hope to see you next time not too luminous around the nose (like Edward Lear's Dong)! Very informative. Kind of ironic: a whole heap of fertiliser in the middle of the desert. And quite a contradiction in terms: gypsum sand. (calcium/silica). It makes me look at the cosmic map of this placement of gypsum (calcium element). Did it feel very earthing to walk on these "sands" (one of the properties of calcium in the soil)? Although, possibly also disorientating, and more like a highway to heaven.... especially with that sportscar!?? A great place to shoot a commercial?

I am very curious about how solitary or alone "in the world" (probably not lonely) you feel during your travels and whether one landscape makes you feel more so than another (this one felt a bit creepy or at least vastly unprotected, somehow).

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Walking barefoot in the gypsum felt comforting, and even now the thought of covering myself in it like a blanket and napping is deeply relaxing.

Being solitary has always been a natural state for me, and I often feel most alone in the company of others. It is not how I'd have things if it were up to me, but it has so far been the way of things. I have not noticed a difference in this when it comes to landscape, though I will place my attention here and see.

As for my luminous nose, I do not share your desire for its disappearance. How else will I seek by lake and shore to find my Jumbly Girl once more?

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As I was writing that worry out for your nose, it did occur to me that if anybody would look good in such a nose it would be you. Luminous suits you and on the sands you were quite so - nothing radioactive about it either (yet....).

ah you look so happy :) good to see you. we visited here while in new mex and truly loved it. it does feel magical and like you're in another world. we camped in one area behind the dunes and the quietude and sunset made for a great evening. continued happy travels~!

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I wish I had stated until sunset. I hear it is magical! Is overnight camping allowed? Maybe I should go back.

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yes, there is overnight camping allowed in one area of the park. if you go to the main visitor center, you have to get a permit to be able to do it. i think it's free or like $10. there are 4ish "campsites" (although they're just that by name as there's nothing back there) and you must hike back .5 or more miles to reach the designated camping spots. very worth it!!

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here are the details. my memory was a little off, but the hike really isn't bad. we weren't really prepared (meaning we didn't have our backpacks and light camping gear, only a bulky tent, etc), but it was fine because it was such a short hike to the spot.

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Thank you!

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you're welcome @cahlen, if you're ever in missouri, please stop by our place. we'd love to have you! <3

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I'd love that as well!