Tuesday, August 27, 2013
White Sands National Monument
White Sands National Monument is just an hour or so southwest of Ruidoso outside of Alamogordo, NM. This place was AHHH-mazing. And hot. Coming down out of the cool mountains into the desert is an extreme climate change. We were wearing long pants and jackets (I was wearing two!) when we left the mountains and ended up sweating our butts off even after we changed into summer gear.
This place though, y'all. It was awesome. The sand is so white it looks like snow and it SPARKLES. You're just driving through scrubby brown dessert and BOOM, hills of pure white. You can see them for miles, glowing in the sun. Most sand is made from quartz, which gives it that warm peachy color, but these dunes are made from pure gypsum. It's beautiful and so so soft. And did I mention it sparkles? It looks just like snow! They have sunset and moonrise hikes daily, I bet that's relatively epic.
After seeing some people sliding down the dunes on sleds, we tried to make our own sled out of a tuperware container lid. Not successful. At all. If you go to White Sands (do it) rent yourself a sled. It looked so fun.
The roads through the park were basically carved out of these dunes, so you were completely surrounded by white! These dunes are fairly active (some moving more than 30 feet a year) so they have to plow the little road, just like snow.
We saw lots of these tracks going all over the dunes and at first we thought they were bike tire marks, but then we realized that it was from a rattlesnake! As scary as it might have been, it would have been neat to spot one in action, cruisin' across the sand.
This place was seriously fantastic and I HIGHLY recommend going if you are any where near it. The park is huge (like 100 acres+) and it only encompasses half the dunes! They make up about 275 acres total, but the dunes outside of the park are a part of a government missile range. Sometimes they have to shut down the nearby highway for hours at a time for missile testing. Cray cray!
After playing around in the sand, sun, and the heat for a while we were very ready to head back up to the mountains. On our way back we stopped at Pistachioland and winery, where I bet Brendon they wouldn't have pistachio wine. They did, so naturally we had to buy a bottle. Such tourists. And for your enjoyment, the world's pistachio:
I mean really, how could you not stop and take a picture with that sucker. Genius business strategy, Pistachioland.
The rest of the trip here.