Surrounded by an active missile test site range in New Mexico is an expanse of sand dunes composed mostly of fine, white gypsum. This 275 square mile expanse is appropriately called White Sands NatIonal Monument.
Driving towards White Sands is a bit alarming if you don't already know there is a missile test range encompassing the park. The highway that leads to the park has warning signs all around that describe the protocol to follow during testing times. The entry way of the park was flanked by a few historic adobe houses, and soon after passing them we were greeted by pure white sand. Beyond the dunes is a stretch of serrated edge mountains; the San Andres Mountains. The dunes seemed to swallow you whole as you drive deeper into the park, and we didn't have to drive very far until we found the perfect place to stop and start taking photos.
White Sands NM is loosely structured, so at a certain point visitors can hike as far as the park allows. We hiked out about a quarter of the mile until we found ourselves on top of a large dune. I can't really describe the feeling of being surrounded by these white sand dunes. There is a cool breeze coming from the mountains as we hiked up the dunes and across the small patches of shrubs. Sand made its way into everything; my sneakers, and tripod, everywhere. The gypsum reflected so many colors as the sky changed; blue to gold to pink. We both had ideas running around our minds and the light was beautiful. It wasn't quite golden hour but it didn't matter much because the sand reflected so much light. This, however, made the sand very cold. We shot hundreds of photos until I became too cold, but at this time the sun was setting behind the San Andres Mountains turning this already surreal landscape into a dreamscape.
We were so amazed by the beauty of White Sands we decided to spend the night in the nearby town and return in the morning to shoot more photos at sunrise. This time we hiked out a bit further and shot a bit more, but I again got very cold very fast because of the cold gypsum and the strong winds. When the sun was finally up we found ourselves hiking back towards the van so we could continue our drive west.
More to come,