Week 22.1: White Sands

While staying at Elephant Butte Lake State Park, we took a day trip to White Sands National Monument, and it was such a cool and crazy place that we decided it deserved its own blog post.  But rather than try to list all the fun facts about White Sands, we’re going to… wait, actually, that list thing sounds like a good idea.  So easy!

OK, here’s a list of fun facts about White Sands:

  • White Sands National Monument is located inside the military’s White Sands Missile Range. Approximately once a week, although not while we were there, the road leading to White Sands is closed for missile testing.
  • The dunes at White Sands are bright white because they’re not made of regular beach sand, but instead are made of gypsum. As we nerdily learned from the visitor’s center, a “sand” designation is based on the size of the grains involved, not the material they are made from.
  • Gypsum sand dissolves in water, and is freakishly cool to the touch. Even on a warm day in direct sunlight, the sand felt like it was probably around 50F.  In bare feet, which was the optimal choice for playing on the dunes, it was kind of cold.
  • The dunes are enormous, and they stretch for miles. You can drive around between the sand dunes, like driving between little mountains.
  • It’s really easy to take awesome pictures of sand dunes. Their lines are so sharp and clean, and the natural shapes they form are endlessly fascinating.  (We have a lot of these!)

To make it even cooler, just as we were leaving the park, a GIGANTIC moon started to rise over the dunes.  It looked surreal.  And huge.


There aren’t really “sights” to see or trails to hike at White Sands.  There’s a little boardwalk, but it wasn’t very interesting.  Mostly, you just walk around and do whatever you feel like.  So we went sledding!


(Link for mobile)

We tried, but it turned out that sand sledding is pretty hard.  (It didn’t help that we accidentally purchased the “child-size” sled.)  We eventually got it working, more or less, when we found a really steep slope.

Really, though, all that is just a lead-up to this gif of Jake attempting to sled, getting stuck, and… gracefully… continuing on:

(Link for mobile)


Roadtrip Status

Still alive?  Check.

Where are you now?  Napa, California.  Drinky drinky!

Next location?  Somewhere northwest of here, probably Arcata or Eureka, CA, to see more redwoods and do a little maintenance on our car and RV.

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