White Sands National Monument
On our drive from Carlsbad Caverns to our HelpX stay in Gila National Forest, we drove through Alamogordo where Edie’s dad was stationed in the Air Force. While driving out of Lincoln National Forest towards Holloman Air Force Base, we noticed a huge strip of white off in the distance, almost like a giant area of snow. Of course, it wasn’t snow in the middle of the desert. It was White Sands National Monument.
Since we were only a few miles away, we decided to take a break from the driving and get out of the truck. The sun was shining bright, the air was warm, and it was a great chance to stretch our legs. Shortly after passing the entrance gate ($3 per person to enter), we found a small parking lot and a short hike on the left.
Dune Life Nature Trail
There are several hikes within the White Sands National Monument. The first one you come to is the Dune Life Nature Trail. That’s the one we hiked. It’s about a mile long up and down the dunes on a trail marked with orange poles. It’s not an especially tough hike, but it is interesting.
There are signs along the way discussing the various wildlife of the dunes and what it’s like for a plant or animal to live in such an inhospitable area. It’s actually amazing that plants and animals can make a life here.
Note that this hike runs alongside the White Sands Missile Range on one side. This is an active missile range, so you should probably stick to the hiking area. We were actually amused by one sign near Holloman Air Force Base that says “Alamogordo…The Friendliest Place On Earth.” On the sign are war planes. There’s an irony there.
White Sands National Monument is located about 15 miles southwest of Alamogordo, NM, just past Holloman Air Force Base on US-70. If you’re on I-25 heading north from El Paso, TX, you can head 50 miles northeast from Las Cruces, NM to get here. You can see the giant area of pure white sand in the map above.
Prepare your eyes! There’s a lot of bright white sand in these pictures!