White Sands National Monument has been on my photography bucket list for a while now. We looked at the distance (1 hour, 40 minutes from our RV park) and decided that it would be good to visit on a weekday, instead of the weekend. Turns out we were right. There were already people waiting for the Visitor Center to open at 9 a.m. when we arrived, but it wasn’t too packed.
I got our National Park Passport date stamped, and we headed out to Dunes Drive. We decided to head for the end of the 8 mile drive, assuming others would stop at the pulloffs closer to the Visitor Center. Of course, we didn’t follow our own advice. 🙂
Note that it is important to follow the safety rules when visiting White Sands. And make sure you bring your sunscreen AND your sunglasses, year round. The white sand is blinding, and you don’t want to sunburn your eyes. As someone who *has* sunburned their eyes before, it’s not fun. It’s why I have polarized sunglasses that wrap around.
Our first stop was the Interdune Boardwalk, which is less than a half-mile roundtrip walk on an elevated boardwalk. This keeps this fragile area from harm. Some of the images from this area:
There’s a nice shaded gazebo with seating for ranger led talks along the boardwalk, but it’s available for a quick rest out of the heat.
Once we finished at the boardwalk, we headed to the end of the loop, looking for dunes with minimal (or no) footprints. We found a couple of likely spots driving around, so we headed back to those once we made our circuit. The end of the 8 mile drive is a loop with several pulloffs.
Turnoff for Roadrunner Picnic Area
As you might guess, the picnic areas themselves are full of footprints all over the dunes. But as you turn to go down to the Roadrunner picnic area, there’s a small pulloff area with some pit toilets. We stopped there because we could see some dunes with minimal footprints. Time to explore!
After this stop, we headed back to the gift shop and visitor center for a short break to cool down. Even though we brought some water, it wasn’t nearly enough, so we purchased more.
Dune Life Nature Trail
After our break, we headed to the Dune Life Nature Trail. This is a one mile self-guided hike, but we really didn’t spend much time hiking. Several compositions caught my eye.
While I was busy capturing images, Bob was capturing video:
Unfortunately, even though we had prepared, I was still getting overheated. To avoid heat exhaustion or heat sickness, we decided that we were done for the day. We’ll definitely be going back during a cooler month. I don’t think I’d ever get tired of seeing the dunes, now that I’ve been once.