White Sands National Monument, NM
Located about 7 hours from Phoenix, its somewhat of a drive to get here. However, I feel if you make it into a camping trip, totally worth the drive!
Driving into the park, you really dont get a sense of the size until you walk out into it.
Starting to look like dunes! The sand is composed of gypsum, a rarity in sand form as its water soluble. The only reason it doesn’t all wash away is its enclosed in a basin. You can get a sense of it when you walk around. Areas that are flat, are hard like cement while the dune peaks are sandy and hard to traverse.
I chose to do the backpacking overnight option. Its a first come first serve setup so make sure to arrive early. I arrived at 2:30pm and half of the camping sites were already booked. The park ranger told me if I had waited a couple hours longer it would have been completely sold out.
Click HERE for more info on camping
Shelter set up and relaxing waiting for the sun to go down. In April the temps are between 80s and 90s. At night they can drop over 40 degrees.
The colors are really blue and white, its absolutely stunning!
The best place to see the untouched sand is on the back country trail. Take ALOT of water, its pretty scorching during the day. Sunset would be a great time to visit, the temperatures fall quickly to a pleasant 70-ish.
Its also so bright you almost need welding goggles just to walk around.
My footsteps looking back. Some of the dunes were seriously massive. Its somewhat disorienting climbing up. It looks alot smaller until you start climbing.
If you look closely you can see my tiny tent in the vastness of the dunes. It goes on for a long way.
Night fallen and the lights on in the tiny tent. Excited to try out my backpacking setup for the first time.
Unfortunately I didn’t plan well enough and I thought my 50 degree rated sleeping bag would be adequate. It gets COLD in the dunes at night. So cold that I was shivering badly and couldnt sleep. About 3am I gave up. I packed everything up and hiked out of the dunes in the pitch black of night. Its about a mile to the parking area, and the trail is only marked with sticks in the sand. They actually tell you to not go anywhere at night because people have gotten seriously lost in the dunes. I drew arrows in the sand in case I got lost. Fortunately after an hour of stumbling about I managed to find the parking area and spent the rest of the night sleeping in a warm car.
On my drive out there were already people coming in to see the sunrise over the gypsum sand.
I also made a video trying to show how quiet it was there. Click HERE to see it! Dont forget to turn your volume all the way up, its really that quiet.a7ii, backcountry, camping, dunes, gypsum, mexico, monument, new, nm, roadtrip, sand, sands, sony, travel, white, whitesands, zeiss