From Carlsbad Caverns, we drove three hours northwest to Alamogordo, NM, where we grabbed a late dinner and then settled into our hotel room for the night.

The next morning, just after sunrise, we drove 16 miles southwest to White Sands National Park, my New Mexico bucket list hit number two. We had actually been out to White Sands the previous evening, hoping to catch the dunes at sunset. I had read that sunset was the best time of day to photograph the dunes, and dear hubs did his best to get me there at that time. Unfortunately, we were just a little too late.

I snapped my feature photo just as we passed the park entry booth in the morning. We paid $25 for our vehicle to enter the park, and were told by the park ranger that the pass was good for seven consecutive days. We thought it was a bargain for even one day!

I’m not really sure what I was expecting but I can assure you that I didn’t expect to be driving through this mesmerizing area for over 16 miles and 1.5 hours. I’m sure my mouth was gaping the entire way! My vocabulary became limited to “Wow!”; Holy!”; and “Look at that!”

Covering an area of 275 square miles (710 sq km), White Sands National Park is the largest collection of gypsum sand dunes in the world.

Im not sure how, but flora and fauna somehow adapt and actually survive here!

Yucca Elata (Soaptree Yucca)

In yesterday’s post, I noted the hardiness of another species of yucca plant that survives in the Chihuahuan desert. The fact that this species was growing right out of the gypsum sand was almost impossible to comprehend. We watched a video about the dunes in the tourist information centre and there we learned that as the fine powdery gypsum is formed, and as the wind blows, all vegetation keeps getting covered over. As they’re covered by the sand, the plants here will continue to grow and stretch for light. We learned that a plant above ground, could have growth as deep as 30 feet below the surface.

Photo Note: I can understand why sunset is a preferred time for photos. The brightness all around me at the time we were there made it difficult to see my phone screen to set composition, focus, and exposure. Most of the time, it was just aim, shoot, and hope for the best. Thankfully, composition can often be achieved through cropping and most of the other elements can be tweaked in post processing.

“God paints in many colors; but he never paints so gorgeously, I had almost said so gaudily, as when he paints in white.”

G. K. Chesterton