White Sands National Park

I know, I know, it’s another national park post. We have done more than just visit national parks, but New Mexico has so many good ones! And like Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands has been on my list of places to visit for a while. So we’ll show you our visit to this park now and then get to some of the other stuff another day.

Before we get to the park itself though, I want to tell you a little story. As we drove towards the park gate we passed another Nissan campervan driving out. Now, many campervan drivers do wave to each other. However, no wave so far can even begin to compete with the exchange between us and the two people in the oncoming van. They were clearly just as excited as we were to see another Nissan build on the road. 

We almost turned around to see if they would pull over or turn into the visitor’s center parking lot if they noticed us behind them; it looked like they might have slowed down after passing us, likely with the same idea. Nissan builds are uncommon enough that we really wanted to see how they did theirs! So that was how we entered the park, and to be honest, even without getting to talk to the other Nissan-dwellers or see their build, that mutual excitement was a perfect way to jump start the transition from work week grind to weekend relaxation.

Missed the New England snow so we made sand angels instead

I’m not sure how much you all know about White Sands National Park, but basically the park manages and preserves a large area of New Mexico’s, and the world’s, largest gypsum dunefield. It’s located directly next to a military missile testing facility and consequently is often closed for safety reasons. That said, I don’t know where they draw the line. Despite being open for normal operations, while we were in the visitor center parking lot there was a loud boom that shook the van; people all around us were getting out of their vehicles to see what was going on. To my knowledge no one saw anything, and we didn’t see or feel anything like that the rest of the afternoon, but it still seemed like an odd thing to be considered normal and safe. 

While one of the most popular activities at the park is sledding on the dunes, we opted instead for a hike on the Alkali Flat Trail, the longest trail there (no surprise, right?). Five miles is by no means a long hike, but considering the entire thing is on sand dunes it wasn’t too easy of a stroll either. We only saw two other people on the loop, so it was a great way to just relax and soak it all in. It was also a great way to go through a lot of sunscreen, but hey, no sunburns made an appearance!

After the Alkali Flat Trail we still had a little time before the park closed, so we checked out the Interdune Boardwalk and the Dune Life Nature Trail. The boardwalk had a lot of signs about the various plants and animals present in the dunes, as well as the geological history. We ended up wishing we’d done that first so we could have identified things on the longer loop. We reached the nature trail just as the sun was setting and I’m not sure our timing could have been any more perfect. White Sands is located between the Sacramento and San Andreas mountain ranges, and watching the sun set behind one mountain range while casting the other range in the most beautiful golden light was absolutely stunning. 

2 thoughts on “White Sands National Park

  1. Your pictures are looking GREAT–sticking with the phone camera? They have gotten disgustingly good. Your composition is great, too. You’re really getting to see some DIFFERENT settings!



    1. Thanks! Yup, still using just the phone camera. We’re still considering getting something else but haven’t done much research into our options yet. We’re certainly enjoying the variety of new places! Though I did see my first tarantula yesterday, so the desert’s less relaxing than it was when we first arrived.


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