White Sands, New Mexico: The beach without water

If you love the beach but hate all that pesky water, then White Sands in New Mexico is for you!

White Sands is a national monument located in southern New Mexico. All the sand is white gypsum sand, which is rarely found on the earth’s surface because it dissolves in water. But it rarely rains here; hence, the dunes stay intact.

At the welcome center, they’ll make it very clear that there is no water available anywhere on the premises. You have to carry in your own water. And don’t you dare forget, because it’s super hot here.

The welcome center is the last sight of color for quite a while.

white sands welcome center

The conditions are rough. With no water and almost no shade, even Bear Grylls wouldn’t last more than a couple days here.

There are a few scattered plants and some shrubbery in the area.

white sands shrubbery

And I managed to find a few amazing flowers.

white sands flowers

You can even see a few lonely trees, who somehow survive by having roots that burrow way down to soil that contains some moisture. This is what a forest looks like in White Sands:

white sands forest

So, nature is pretty much non-existent, though you can keep an eye out for a couple of select creatures, like the bleached earless lizard, which has evolved to become white (with a green tail.) I spotted one hidden among some dead branches. Can you spot the tail in this photo?

bleached earless lizard white sands

You should wear swim trunks when you visit, because, just like the beach, you’ll be shaking sand out of your clothes for days. Or maybe it’s just because I did cartwheels and played in the sand.

white sands play

One of the suggested activities here for kids is sledding down the sand dunes as if they’re made of snow. We tried that and it didn’t work so well.

Still, White Sands is a strange place. Which makes it fun, in my book.

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About Scott Shetler

Scott is a Chicago-based journalist and blogger who seeks out quirky sights and awesome destinations throughout North America and beyond.

10 comments on “White Sands, New Mexico: The beach without water

  1. Have you ever looked at it from up near Cloudcroft? As you climb to almost 10,000 feet above sea level, there are great lookouts to stop at along the way allowing you to take a look at the glittering white from thousands of feet above! White Sands is amazing up close and just as stunning from a distance for sure! It is also interesting to read about the animals adaptations as well as what makes White Sands what it is..I am glad someone else has found this place 🙂 Great post.

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