My biggest NPS adventure on my New Mexico trip was a day at White Sands National Monument! White Sands is a beautiful place, a desert made of white gypsum sand near Alamogordo, New Mexico. My family had a great time staying at Inn of the Mountain Gods the night before, so we were well-rested before we set out into the desert.
The sand is pure white and so soft! I live near the Atlantic Ocean and our sand is much grittier. At White Sands, you can climb and play as long as you don't disturb the plants and animals. The sky was bright blue with a few clouds. My family packed lots of water because it can get very hot at White Sands.
One fun thing you can do at White Sands is sled down the dunes! At the gift shop, you can purchase a sled, but I decided to do what my mama did as a kid- slide on a big piece of cardboard. It was so fun! I wanted to roll down, but my parents said "NO WAY!" and told me I'd end up looking like a sand dune myself!
I love this photo because you can see the ripples the wind made in the dunes. Isn't it a beautiful sight? I'm so lucky that I got to visit! You can see mountains behind me. The sand is in the Tularosa basin which is surrounded by the San Andres and Sacramento Mountains. The mountains are partially made of gypsum, so when wind and water brought the gypsum down into the basin, it formed the beautiful white gypsum dunes over time. In fact, the whole area used to be a sea in ancient times!
My mama, mom, and grandma joined me in climbing way up into the dunes. Just to be safe, we stayed where we could see the car parked below. The dunes, if you get lost, can be very disorienting! I loved sitting on the top of a dune and filling out my Junior Ranger booklet.
On our way out of the park, we stopped to do a little hike on a raised walkway through a biological crust area. The biological crust is composed of sand and lots of bacteria that secrete goo that makes the sand bumpy on top. It sounds gross, but it's really awesome. I saw bunny tracks in the crust, but I didn't see any animals other than birds at White Sands. I really wanted to see a lizard!
Back at the ranger station/ visitor center, Ranger Eugene checked my Jr. Ranger booklet. I did a good job, so he awarded me an official badge! He was really nice. We talked a bit about how I am a junior ranger at many different parks across the country.
Would you want to visit White Sands? What would you do there?