White Sands National Monument was perplexing when Finn and I first saw it off in the distance. We had been driving through the dry, flat, brown land of New Mexico and then rather quickly the landscape changed and we saw what looks like a massive snow pile straight ahead of us in the distance.
Of course it’s not snow, it’s actually the world’s largest gypsum dune field and a very unique place.
When we arrived at the park we first stopped at the Visitor Center. We watched a movie to learn how this area was formed, checked out the gift store, talked to a ranger, and bought a used sled (which you can later sell back to them for 1/3 the price). Then we drove into the dune field and got as far down the road as possible before taking our first hike.
The gypsum sparkles in the sunlight and feels softer than typical sand. We ditched our sandals for most of our hiking and the softness made climbing difficult but the view from the top of the dunes was worth the effort. It’s noticeably quiet on the dunes; no birds, insects, or animals making any noise. We didn’t go too far from the RV since it’s easy to get lost in the 275 square miles of sand. Once you’re over one dune it all looks the same.
The sledding was exhausting with all the climbing and the heat, but we both went down a few hills and had some good runs. It was better to go down established runs, but Finn wanted to cut his own trail at least once. You can check out video of Finn’s run on our Facebook page.