The Beauty of White Sands National Park

White Sands became a National Park in 2019 and is worth a visit.

tree with dried leaves against a blue sky and white sand dunes
© Carol Labuzzetta 2020. All Rights Reserved.

White Sands National Park is located in south-central New Mexico. You’ll find the largest gypsum fields in the world there. While not all of it is the national park, there are 275 square miles of glistening white sand dunes. The dunes sit atop what is known as the Tularosa Basin.

Red adobe structure common to the SW United States as the Visitor Center at White Sands National Park.
Welcome sign at White Sands. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2020.

After a brief stop at the visitors center, we gained entrance to the park on Dunes drive. This is where you would buy your park pass if you need one. We had an annual pass so we did not need to purchase one.

You’ll note that before White Sands was a National Park it was a National Monument. The signage had not been changed when we visited — only two months after it became a National Park. White Sands had been a national monument since 1933 when Herbert Hoover designated it as such. The advancement to a National Park status means that the park has both cultural and natural significance that deserves recognition. For those that work within the park system at that location, it was probably a long-awaited and deserved designation. (Source)

Although the landscape looks arid and desolate, there are ecosystems that exist and thrive there. You just have to know where to look. Both plants and animals call this park home. Being aware of where you step is an important piece of spending time at White Sands.

blue sky, white sand, yucca plant and grasses
Plant life including yucca at White Sands. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2020.

Plants help stabilize the dunes and the sands do shift here — up to 30 feet a year. They prevent erosion and provide shelter for animals. Protection from the harsh elements is key to survival here. Be assured that if some plant or animal is surviving here, it has adapted to be able to do so.

grasses in the white sand against a blue sky with mountains far in the distance
An example of dune stabilization at White Sands National Park. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2020.
Carol Labuzzetta, MS Natural Resources, MS Nursing

Environmental educator with a passion for teaching youth using the science of awe. Traveler, Photographer, Author, Wife, Mother. Top Writer & Boosted Writer x3