Top 10 Interesting White Sands National Monument Facts
Grab your sled; we’re headed for New Mexico! While the large southwest state isn’t usually associated with snow and winter sports, there is a neat exception: the White Sands National Monument. The White Sands National Monument is one of the world’s greatest wonders and attracts tourists from all over the world, while the visitor center is a great example of an adobe building; having been built in the 1930’s and houses a museum with artifacts and documentary films about the history of the area. Moonlight hikes and sunset tours are available throughout the year from the visitor center so visitors can get a whole new perspective on the area and it is in close proximity to many Las Cruces hotels.
Located in the south of the state, 15 miles west of the town of Alamogordo, this site is one of the best places to visit in New Mexico. Here are just 10 reasons why:
1. The White Sands National Monument is made up entirely of gypsum crystals that form dunes that stretch over 275 square miles.
2. The park is on the Register of Historic Places, and can be found in any New Mexico travel guide.
3. The idea to make this area a National Park was first thought of way back in 1898.
4. The White Sands National Monument is completely surrounded by military installations and is periodically closed for a few hours at a time while they carry out testing.
5. Located in the Tularosa Basin, the park and the dunes are fully enclosed; there is no outlet to water of any kind, so the gypsum never gets dissolved in water.
6. Four marked trails allow visitors to explore the dunes on foot; guided tours are also available where a Ranger leads the expedition.
7. Visitors can go sledding year round at the park. Sleds are available for purchase at the visitor center and you can spend the day having fun in the sun.
8. The site of the first atomic bomb detonation is located on the northern boundary of the National Park.
9. Gypsum, what makes up the dunes is actually a clear substance; the dunes appear white like snow because the gypsum grains are constantly banging into each other. The scratches then reflect the sun’s rays making them look white.
10. Gypsum doesn’t absorb heat from the sun, so even on the hottest day of the year; the dunes are cool and comfortable to walk on.
For those wanting more from the park, White Sands National Monument camping is available on a first come first served basis for their one campsite located about a third of a mile from the scenic drive. This primitive site has no bathrooms or running water, but allows for lovely tranquility and one of a kind view. Don’t forget your sunscreen and your sunglasses, and bring your sense of adventure when you visit the ‘snowy’ White Sands National Monument