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You Can Find the World’s Largest Gypsum Dunefield in New Mexico and It Is Glistening With White Sand

Suny Errot



If you are a tourist visiting New Mexico for the first time, then you’ve probably already seen several destinations that are begging to be explored. We already covered the 10 top-rated spots that everyone should visit. There is also a big chance that you’ve come across White Sands National Park due to its stunning beauty. Well, you are not mistaken. This is one of the world’s great natural wonders. Why is that? Keep reading…

Seeing White Sands National Park in Person Seems Like You Are Stepping Into a New World

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This destination is like no other place on earth. The White Sands National Park rises from the heart of the Tularosa Basin, and enthralls visitors with its picture-perfect glistening white sand. The wave-like dunes of gypsum sand engulf 275 square miles of desert, creating the world’s largest gypsum dunefield! One can say that this place perfectly captures and preserves a piece of New Mexico’s unique geology.

Gypsum is rarely found as sand because it just dissolves in contact with water. However, the weather and isolation patterns of the Tularosa Basin creates a truly unique experience for adventurers and explorers. Thus, the iconic White Sands National Park.

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You will be delighted looking at the vast white stretch before your feet. Not only that, no matter where you look, you will find that the place is truly picturesque. If you are one of the lucky individuals who visit here, make sure to take advantage of your time because not all can get the chance to witness a good backdrop.

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White Sands National Park also preserves a major portion of this unique dunefield, along with the plants and animals living there. When you visit, make sure to be respectful of the place. White Sands got established as a national monument in 1933. It was re-designated as a national park in 2019. Since the location is between several military bases, the monument is sometimes closed for missile tests.

You Can Hike the Trails at White Sands National Park

Trail White Sands National Park

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You can choose from a variety of trails that range from easy to difficult. There is something for everyone, and you can certainly choose the best one perfect for your level of experience. The established trails offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Choose from the following:

Playa Trail

If you want something easy, this is for you. The Playa Trail is an easy, 0.5-mile round-trip, level trail, and it’s perfect if you have 30 minutes to spare. You will see outdoor exhibits along the way, and hikers can just follow the trail markers with a heart symbol to reach the small playa. At the end of the trail, you’ll have the experience to see what the area looked like 10,000 years ago, as well as about the giants that roamed the land.

Dune Life Nature Trail

Don’t want to get too tired when out exploring the trail? Choose the Dune Life Nature Trail, which is a moderate, one-mile self-guided loop hike. Hikers will face a bit of a challenge climbing the two steep dunes with loose sand. This is a family-friendly trail, and it’s more fun if you bring them along. While you’re hiking, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the animals that consider this place home. There are badgers, birds, rodents, reptiles, as well as kit foxes. You only need one hour to complete this hike.

Backcountry Camping Trail

Hit this trail and conquer a 2-mile round trip hike that will take you on a shorter route through the heart of the dunes. There are orange trail markers along the way and you can follow it to see the varied dunes and vegetation. Similar to Dune Life Nature Trail, hikers will also need to climb over steep dunes and loose sand.

Alkali Flat Trail

Expert hikers who want something more challenging may choose the Alkali Flat Trail, a strenuous, 5-mile round trip hike. The trail skirts the edge of what is now known as the remnant of Lake Otero. Expect occasional changes in elevation in your climb! Go only if you are physically and mentally prepared because the trail is pretty tough!

What You Should Know

White Sands landscape new mexico

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Before you go, make sure to plan ahead to ensure you have a great and safe hike. The weather at White Sands National Park is pretty extreme and unpredictable. Visitors will find that this destination is full of surprises, with some days being very sunny and hot, with nights becoming shockingly cold.

Remember that federal laws and policies prohibit anyone from the taking of sand and any resource from the park. While it is stunningly beautiful, be sure to obey the rules. If you illegally take resources from the park, you will be given a Class B misdemeanor punishment and get imposed with a $5,000 fine or 6 months in jail.

Just Recently, the Longest Fossilized Human Trackway Has Been Discovered at White Sands National Park

A group of archaeologists just made a recent discovery in this beautiful paradise – one that provides a sense of humans with their ancient ecosystem. They documented nearly a mile of fossilized footprints from the out-and-back venture. According to them, the trackway had more than 400 human prints. It also has several tiny child prints. When they analyzed the shape, structure, and spread of tracks, the research team detailed that it was about one ancient person’s walk across the landscape. More than 10,000 years ago, a man or a woman carried a toddler across the expanse that is now known as the White Sands National Park.

How cool is that? There’s nothing quite like it. In addition to that, they also saw traces of a mammoth and giant sloth crossing the region after the humans passed. Based on the prints, the sloth probably reared back on two legs, possibly to sniff for the human presence, similar to how bears behave today.

Have you been to White Sands National Park?

Before you go, check these out: The Complete Guide to 10 of the Most Beautiful Waterfalls You Can Find in New Mexico and 10 Breaking Bad Film Locations You Can Visit in New Mexico.