It doesn’t seem to matter how long we stand atop these glistening white hills, staring infinitely through the white abyss with the craggy dark mountains way off in the distance…we reach deep into our vocabulary hoping to pull out something beautiful, but we’re stunned to one word: Unbelievable.
We find ourselves in the midst of one of the world’s greatest natural wonders and our minds are blown. The fine grains of white sand are wavering across the desert floor and we’re frozen, as if our brains can’t compute what our senses are experiencing. There’s no poetic verses flowing out of our mouths, no heightened sense of enlightenment, not even fantasies of Arabian royalty riding past on well adorned horses…it’s just the one simple word playing over and over: Unbelievable.
It’s our second visit to White Sands National Monument and we’re completely overwhelmed, again! The first visit we spent sledding down the tallest hills we could find and this visit we set off for a hike out to the end of the dunes on the Alkali Flat Trail. We expected a decent hike filled with “more of the same white hills”, but instead we had an experience that cannot be told with our limited vocabulary, it cannot be captured with even the most expensive cameras, it’s just one of those adventures you have lace up your hiking shoes and see-to-believe.
Not to say those beautiful thoughts and words didn’t come later. Now, as we look back at our photographs it’s hard to believe we were there…or that such a place even exists. White Sands is one of those incredible places where you can physically see how time and wind work together to shape the world. Each wisp and gust of wind wipes away footprints, molds the ground around you and changes the distance landscape.
Actually, if it wasn’t for the wind constantly tumbling and scratching the translucent grains of sand, this fascinating piece of land wouldn’t be white at all, it’d be clear! The white is simply stunning but can you imagine how other-worldly a desert of light reflecting translucent sand would look?
It’s all unbelievably surreal…but real it is. This wonderland of dazzling white waves can be found in the heart of the Tularosa Basin of New Mexico. Giant dunes made of gypsum sand that stretch over 275 square miles of desert and reach up to 60 feet high. All this just a mere 48 miles away from our mountain-top forest camp in Cloudcroft, NM; but what a world away it is!
Both our visits to this amazing place have been during winter and spring (this trip was in March) when visitation is low (so we had the place mostly to ourselves) and temperatures are nice and mild (between 65 & 80 degrees). Sadly, that means we have missed out on one very cool event…White Sands by lunar light! Oh darn, I guess that means we’ll have to plan another visit…and maybe this time we’ll have a wax-poetic moment to share.