Friday, August 4, 2017

White Sands National Monument

This morning we left about 8:30 am and got to White Sands National Monument by 9:00 am. It's right between Holloman AFB and White Sands Missile Range in the Chihuahuan Desert.  As we approached the sands, you could see them in the distance...kind of a strange thing on a prairie with green tumble weed and succulents and yucca to dunes of white sands. So weird!

The monument is just right off the road with bus/RV parking right at the street side of the visitor's center.  About 6-9 RV or buses can park there but they have it set up in 3 rows of 3 deep so it's to your advantage to get there early for a good front spot.

The visitor's center is manned by mainly native Americans. I got my book stamped and bought Cierra a coin book for all the coins she's been collecting.  There is a nice little shop there.  

What are they dunes? The dunes are in the center of the Tularosa Basin and one of the world's greatest natural wonders.  These sand dunes are actually gypsum sand that is 275 square miles of desert creating the world's largest gypsum dune field.  People arrived in the Tularosa Basin after the last ice age ended 11,000 years ago.  The Jornada Mogollon were the first to farm the area and lived there until drought forced them out in the 1300s.  American Indians returned in the 1600s and European Americans came in the late 1800s.  When the railroad came, so did people...the residents of Alamogordo, who promoted the idea of this national monument.  President Herbert Hoover declared it a landmark in 1933.

To view the dunes, you just drive out of the parking lot and turn right to the fee station.  RVs and buses are easily able to maneuver the 8-mile loop.  There is a lot of parking areas, picnic areas and places to turn easily.  Be prepared to show your National Parks pass at the entrance station because there is a fee to view the park.

I really loved all the plant life in this park.  It was very interesting to me.  There is also a lot of wildlife in this park: kit fox, bleached ear less lizards, snakes - garter snake and black-tailed rattle snake, and also the Apache pocket mouse.  My favorite of the plants was the Soaptree Yucca and Verbina.
Young Soaptree Yucca. I LOVE this photo!
Multi-colored Verbena
Hunter really loved climbing up on the dunes.  He was king of the world!
King of the Heap
Cute Kid!
The first place we hiked in was at the "Interdune Boardwalk" and it was a very simple and easy walk that anyone can do. There are signs about the dunes and benches for sitting along the walk. You can see the parking lot from the far end of the boardwalk, so it's very easy to do.
Hunter is excited to be at the dunes.
Cierra's obligatory hand stand
Interesting foliage in the dunes
More foliage and the boardwalk and The Gypsy Rose in the background.
Gypsy Rose looks pretty against the sand.
This is part of the road that you are actually driving on the sand.  Hunter and I caught a LOT of Pokemon here, too!
Sand Roadway
Leaving the monument, I had to stop to take more photos of the Soaptree Yucca.
This yucca had 3 fingers and is over 15 feet tall!
Seeds of the Soaptree Yucca
You really should go see the National Monument.  It's so unique and will be well worth your time.  You can see and learn about the area in about an hours or so.  Enjoy!

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