White Sand Dunes National Monument

Our day entailed a morning tour through Spider Cave at Carlsbad Caverns National Park and a late afternoon rendezvous to Roswell, which made us pull into Lake Holloman at the Holloman Air Force Base long after the sun had set.  We spent one quiet evening along the lake before venturing out the next morning into White Sand Dunes National Monument just 2 miles down the road.

Because boondocking at Lake Holloman is free and is quite beautiful, we were sorry to have left so soon.  I snapped this photo shortly after sunrise, not long before we departed.IMG_8977

White Sand Dunes National Monument was literally off the side of the freeway.  Its adobe visitor center was unique and kept true to the aesthetic of the local culture.20141211_092706

Before setting out for a hike, we drove along Dunes Drive to gape at the scenery.  16 miles of somewhat paved road stretch out into the dunes, laying out a lollipop route easily accessible from the main highway.20141211_085004IMG_9005 IMG_9007 IMG_9013

Drive-up picnic benches were protected with some sort of wind barrier. 20141211_085600

How did these pure white sand dunes even get here?  Well, during the last ice age the area was covered in basins.  As the lakes and basins dried out, gypsum was left behind in crystallite form, which was eventually crushed into sand through weathering and erosion. The longest hiking trail at White Sand Dunes, known as Alkali Flat, is 4.6 miles long and traverses through what was once Lake Otero, now a dried out lakebed.

Even with my anticipation of Alkali Trail being jaw-dropping gorgeous, I was still awe-struck by its artistic, natural beauty.  As we traversed up and down the dunes, we were thankful it was December; the perfect 65º temperature was preferred over July’s 100º+ temperatures.  Like a snow-covered winter wonderland, the snowy sand embraced us with the silence of Mother Nature.  We walked, stopped, and often sat to gaze upon the ripples of sand slowly changing pattern with the warm breeze of the Southwest.  It was even easy to see silhouettes of others in the distance, hunkered down in the ice-blue shade of the dune, simply taking it all in.  Photos below capture our late afternoon hike on the dunes.IMG_9017 IMG_901920141211_140359IMG_9021 IMG_902920141211_14250620141211_142630IMG_9034 IMG_9036 20141211_144746 20141211_144804 20141211_152526 20141211_152719

We completed the hike just in time for sunset. 20141211_164354 20141211_165006 20141211_165111 20141211_165734IMG_9080

Then we sled down the dunes. Whee!20141211_164209 IMG_9071

And finally, after one last look into the sunset on the dunes, we set out west once again.IMG_9095 IMG_9096

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One Response to White Sand Dunes National Monument

  1. Pingback: Great Sand Dunes and Zapata Falls | Romping & Nguyening

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