“Well I’m not a scientist. But I know all things begin and end in eternity.” – Thomas Jones Newton
It has been over a week since my visit to the White Sands National Monument, and I am know in the Gila National Forest, at the Cosmic Campground. The cell phone signal is excellent here. So I can finally get focused and talk about my day traversing the White Sands outside of Alamogordo New Mexico.
As I mentioned in my last blog, I had to cut my stay short in the Aguirre Springs Recreation Area to take care of some unfinished business that I had left behind in Boston, back in January. Due to the lack of a strong cellphone signal I would spend the night in Alamogordo. This gave me the opportunity to visit the White Sands.
The White Sands of New Mexico
The White Sands, which is just south of Alamogordo, is 275 square miles of gypsum desert. It is the worlds largest gypsum desert, and completely surrounded by military installations.
When entering the monument you follow a single road that loops at the end. Off the road are several trails that range in difficulty. The first trail you come upon is the easiest and is called the Playa Trail.
The playa is a dry lake bed that will collect water after it rains. So it is an ever-changing ecosystem. When I was there, it was dried up and the surface was crystallized with salt.
The next trail I came across was the Dune Life Nature Trail. This is a 1.5 mile loop hike. The trail is based around an ecotone (a place where two biomes meet). There are excellent interpretive signs that guide you through the trail outlining the fauna and flora of these two biomes.
Most of the inhabitants here are nocturnal, and for good reason. With temperatures getting as high as 110º F, our furry friends might want to spend most of the daylight hours in a nice shady place, or burrowed underground. So if you are hoping to see bobcats or badgers, you probably wont have much luck.
However, if you are there to enjoy the cacti, yuccas, and other desert fauna you are in luck.
Several more trails await the curious, and there are even camping grounds for those willing to backpack into the dunes. One of the more popular trails which is a handicap accessible boardwalk was undergoing modifications. So Unfortunately I was unable to check that out.
Another activity that seemed to be quite popular was sledding down the dunes. Round plastic saucers could be purchased at the visitor center if one was so inclined to partake.
And Now What?
I probably spent four or five hours there. I could have spent a longer time there but I had business to attend to before heading south to El Paso on a recommendation from a gentleman I conversed with in Las Cruces. He suggested visiting Franklin Mountains State Park. There, I would meet up with Liz, and Benny. Two wonderful volunteers who care for a nature trail there, with a bird blind. So…. as always… Peace