White Sands National Monument

Tour of the Deserts | Honeymoon Adventure
Thursday & Friday, March 16-17, 2017

White Sands Colors
A beautiful and colorful sunset in White Sands National Monument.

After spending the previous day driving from Tucson to Alamogordo and visiting the Three River Petroglyph Site, it was time to finally visit White Sands National Monument. I have long wanted to visit these white gypsum sand dunes located in the Tularosa Valley of southern New Mexico and made sure that this park would be a stop on our Honeymoon Adventure. We headed over to the Visitor Center early and arrived about 30 minutes before they opened at 9:00am so we could get one of the ten permits available for camping in the dunes that night. I’m glad we got there early, because when we arrived there were already four groups ahead of us waiting in line to get permits. One of the guys waiting in line told us that they had tried to get a permit the day before at noon and were told that the permits were all gone shortly after they opened because of Spring Break.

When the doors opened we were able to get a permit for the night and then we went on a short drive through the Monument and hiked across a few of the dunes close to the road. The park got very busy very quickly so we decided to leave for a few hours and return later in the afternoon to hike to our campsite. Plus, the unseasonably high temperatures we had experienced the past few days were still sticking around and we figured it would cool down a little later in the day, too.

Welcome to White Sands National Monument.

White Sands National Monument

When we first got into the park Diane found this abandoned sled in the parking lot and give it a try. It didn’t work so well.

Sand Sledding

White Sands Yucca

White Sands Yucca

My Jeep parked at the base of a white sand dune.

White Sands Jeep

We returned to the park a few hours before sunset, loaded our packs and hiked across the dunes to our designated campsite. It was a pretty short hike and the sand was mostly solid and easy to walk on the whole way, so it didn’t take long for us to get there. We setup camp and then headed into the Heart of the Sands to explore and take photos until the sun went down.

Diane ready to start hiking to our campsite.

Trailhead

Our home for the night.

White Sands Camp

A lot of different textures to be found…

White Sands

Lines Between Dunes

Ripples, Dunes & Mountains

Hiking in the dunes.

Hiking The Lines

Corrugated

Sand Dunes & Mountains

White Sand Dunes

The light was beautiful and warm as the sun began to drop below the San Andres Mountains.

Dune Light

Sand Dune Sunset

We had a lot of fun exploring these awesome sand dunes, especially after the sun went down and the colors got very interesting. At times it felt like we were walking in another world! As it started getting darker out, the light got strange and started to blend in with the white sand. It was a bit disorienting and I could see how easily someone could get lost out here if they weren’t careful.

Diane in another world.

Another World

Endless ripples of blue sand dunes at dusk.

Endless Ripples

A touch of alpenglow on the dunes with Sierra Blanca in the distance.

Dunes at Dusk

We slept well that night. There was very little wind and the temperature was comfortable. Diane slept in later this morning but I got out of the tent shortly before sunrise and went exploring by myself for a little while.

My shadow and warm light on the sand dune near camp.

Shadow

Morning Ripples

Morning Ripples

Curved Edge

White Sands Morning

Dunes & Mountains

Morning Dune

This buried yucca caught my eye as I was returning back to camp.

Buried

After returning to the trailhead we loaded up the Jeep and left the White Sands behind as we started driving north to Albuquerque. When planning the route for our honeymoon adventure we had hoped to catch a concert somewhere along the way, and that opportunity presented itself when Skillet and Devour the Day announced a show at The Historic El Rey Theater in Albuquerque late in 2016. I had purchased tickets when they went on sale in December, which was a good thing since the show sold out, and we spent the evening at the concert.

>> White Sands National Monument Photo Gallery


2 Comments

  1. john griffith April 21, 2017 10:23 am  Reply

    Great post! we were just there and thoroughly enjoyed it. I would like to hiked much further back into the dunes than just the backcountry loop allowed, but didn’t trust my route finding skills enough. great photos!

    • Randy Langstraat April 21, 2017 10:59 am  Reply

      Thanks John. I usually have a pretty good sense of direction in the backcountry, but once the sun went down the light got weird and I was glad to have my GPS!

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