White Sands National Monument

Of all the amazing natural wonders in New Mexico, White Sands is surely one of the most amazing.
White Sands New Mexico

Situated in the Tularosa Basin near Alamogordo, the Monument consists of 275 square miles of dazzling white dunes. The dunes are actually made of gypsum particles, and not the usual beach or desert type sand we're most familiar with. In fact,  White Sands is the largest gypsum dune field in the world.
 White Sands National Monument

How did the dunes get here?


The gypsum that forms the white sands was deposited at the bottom of a shallow sea that covered this area 250 million years ago. Eventually turned into stone, these gypsum-bearing marine deposits were uplifted into a giant dome 70 million years ago when the Rocky Mountains were formed. Beginning 10 million years ago, the center of this dome began to collapse and create the Tularosa Basin. The remaining sides of the original dome formation now form the San Andres and Sacramento mountain ranges that ring the basin.

The gypsum deposits in these mountains were dissolved by rain and washed down into the the basin, collecting in a normally dry lakebed, Lake Lucero. The water evaporated, leaving the crystal form of gypsum, called selenite. Some of these crystals grow to as much as 2-3 feet long.
Most of the selenite existing in Lake Lucero was deposited there long ago, but sand formation is still happening today. Weathering and wind erosion break down the crystals into sand-sized grains, which are carried away by the prevailing winds from the southwest, and deposited into the dune field. The dunes change shape constantly, and move slowly downwind.
Sunset, White Sands NM

   White Sands is a popular tourist destination, offering spectacular photo opportunities. Area residents find it a great place for family outings and picnics, and kids especially love it here.
A loop drive through the dunes allows visitors a close look at the shifting sands, with picnic shelters and restrooms along the way. A modern visitor center and gift shop are near the entrance to the monument. Programs and Park Ranger tours are available throughout the  year, but there are no camping facilities within the park.

Sunset over the Dunes, White Sands

Go HERE for the Official White Sands website.