White Sands National Monument, New Mexico - Part A

September 14
2007 Fall Trip - 40 days and 3,692 miles into trip

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This National Monument is just down the road from White Sands Missile Range.
The range and the National Monument are in the Tularosa Basin. The heart of this basin contains the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Great wave like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert and have created the world's largest gypsum dune field.

The dunes only get up to 50-60 feet high (small compared to the 750 feet at Great Sand Dune NP in Colorado) but they are pure white. Like all sand dunes, the wind is slowly reshaping them: growing, cresting, the slumping, but always advancing.

As a dune advances it starts to cover plants. Some of the plants have adapted by being able to grow fast enough to stay on top of the dune. Other plants can anchor their roots and continue to grow on a pedestal of sand after the dune moves on.

While we were here we viewed the film at the visitors center and then drove into the heart of the park. The temperature was around 100 and sunny.
The sun was HOT!


Parked at one of the trailheads.
This trail is on a long elevated boardwalk with sun shields every so often.
The boardwalk made it much easier to walk than on the sand.


Sight seeing on the boardwalk.

The Soaptree Yucca can elongate its stem to keep its leaves above the sand, growing upward as much as a foot per year.

This plant grew on top of the dune. It quickly anchored its roots and
continues to grow on a pedestal of sand after the dune moved on.


Resting in the shade.

Resting in the shade.

There were many yellow flowered and orange flowered
plants growing in the sand.
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