Thanks to our two friends who recommended the White Sands National Monument, we could sled in our summer road trip three years ago. Summer! Not winter. And it’s on gypsum, not sand! “What?” you might wonder.
Summer Sled at White Sands National Monument
It’s late in the afternoon when we arrived at the White Sands National Monument Visitor Center in Alamogordo, New Mexico. In about half hour, the Sunset Stroll was about to begin. After reading the program’s brochure, we decided to join in to learn about the white sands and enjoy the sunset at the end.
But first, we went to gift shop to rent the waxed snow-saucer for sledding. When my husband walked to the back part, he found used ones that were for sale. He bought one and we’re ready to sled and explore!
The Sand is Gypsum!
Wherever we turned and looked around, it’s all white all the way to the horizon. The brilliant white sands in the park are not like sands on the white sandy beaches. White Sands National Monument was made of about 98 percent pure gypsum sand. It is a common mineral that is used in a variety of products like drywall for your house or toothpaste in your bathroom. Besides rarely found in sand form, it’s even rarer to find gypsum sand in the form of dunes, making this 275-square mile dune fields a one-of-a-kind natural wonder.
White Sands National Monument Guided Tour
We joined the Sunset Stroll, which was a leisurely, ranger-guided stroll through the gypsum sand dunes. It didn’t require much of climbing, approximately one mile (1.6 km), and took about 45 minutes to one hour.
I remember our ranger was a rookie, but he explained the uniqueness of the geology, plants, and animals of the area well. And without we knew it, we’re already at the end of the stroll. When I looked to the horizon, the sun was almost set and he reminded us to stay on path when we’re scattered around to enjoy the sunset.
We picked one dune where we could see the road from the top and had fun sledding; laughing, screaming, back and forth until we couldn’t see the light at the horizon anymore. The sand felt cool to the touch and yes, we made sand angel, too. It was really awesome and the sunset itself was fantastic.
The next morning our son begged to go back to the park for more fun. Of course we couldn’t say no because we wanted to sled again, too. But first, we stopped at the Interdune Boardwalk to learn more about the park’s visitors and found several animal tracks around it; nocturnal animals or morning animals?
Then we drove to amphitheater and sled and played in the sand for a couple of hours. What a fun and memorable morning!
When it’s time to leave, we didn’t have to worry about the sands sticking on our body. All we needed to do was just shake it before we climbed to the car and left for the next destination with excitement.
Thank you again to our two friends who recommended this park to us.
Tips when visiting White Sands National Monument
– Read and follow the safety rules of the park. Don’t underestimate the safety rules and overestimate yourself.
– Programs may be canceled due to weather or missile range activities.
– Use your America the Beautiful National Park pass. Or, $5 for adults (ages 16 and older) and free for children (ages 15 and younger).
– Lots of hotels and restaurants to choose from that fit your budget in Alamogordo.
Address: Highway US-70 between the cities of Alamogordo and Las Cruces. The entrance to the monument can be found between mile 199 and 200.
Visited: June 2014.