Drive another five hours east on Interstate 10, and you will find yourself in the vibrant and friendly city of Las Cruces, New Mexico. And just past it is White Sands National Park, a 227-square-mile area of the largest gypsum dune field in the world. The park has a small area accessible by car and a curving Interdune Boardwalk that allows you to walk on and experience the unique sand. It is advertised as “like no place else on Earth,” and I think it is definitely true.
The sand of White Sands reflects the sunlight so well that it is essential to wear sunglasses here. Without them, I felt like I was staring into the sun and surely going to damage my eyes. With them, I was able to stare at the landscape around me in amazement. The dunes are something special to look at and observe the way the wind has blown them into strange configurations.
That was my favorite part, watching the dunes change ever so slightly and knowing that this change had been occurring for centuries and will keep at it as long as there is wind. Even my footprints changed the dunes for the briefest of moments, and I was excited to experience a unique version of the park that would look different the next day.
When I visited the park in April, I had the benefit of the very temperate weather. With the sun shining and reflecting on the sand, it was clear that in hotter weather, the park could easily become very uncomfortable. Summers in White Sands National Park can get over the 100°F mark, so be sure to check the weather before you head out to the park. It is possible to hike around the dunes, and in this case, water and sunscreen are a must.