We had a chance to visit White Sands National Monument since some friends from out of town were going and invited us to join them. It was a sunny, windless, perfect spring day, and the large soft white dunes were inviting and just a heck of a lot of fun to explore. Our friends were two couples with young children, and a seasoned hound dog that belonged to one of the couples. Kids love White Sands; there is no end to the imaginative things they see and want to do with the super-fine gypsum sand. Their energy is boundless, even in the heat of the day.
Although it is still early spring, the sun was very strong and hot, and proper sun protection is necessary even in early April. Hats, long sleeves, and plenty of sun block are in order to enjoy the day without getting a sunburn. I forgot the sunblock for my legs and ended up with some redness. The rest of me was covered well enough though, and the short walk we took over the dunes, away from the cars and the main drive, was just enough of a walk to properly tire out the entire crew, kids and grown-ups alike.
From the yucca plants to the small, black beetles that scurried away, the landscape was certainly a desert, and properly hot. Everyone packed plenty of water and drank it often. Once a small bit of shade was procured next to a petrified dune, everyone settled down and had some snacks and more water. Dogs are allowed at White Sands, and even the hound dog that walked with us was certainly enjoying the romp through the glistening sands. The patterns that wind creates on the dune faces are surreal and sublime; a simple pile of sand with two yucca plants suddenly becomes a beautifully fashioned tableau, topped with a slice of blue sky.
There is no one right way to enjoy White Sands National Monument–it is entirely up to you how long or how far you want to venture. Just park the car and get into the dunes. If the days are a bit breezy, there is no better place to fly a kite. There are picnic areas with tables, grills and sun shades right up against the dunes, so that is a great way to get out and enjoy the area as it provides a home base, shade from the sun, and a great place to have lunch or dinner.
All in all, White Sands National Monument is simply a great place to enjoy the more stark beauty of nature, and it is always fun.