November 19, 2022
In the heart of New Mexico's Tularosa Basin, dunes of gypsum sand cover 275 square miles — an area partially protected by White Sands National Park.
Most visitors cluster around a couple of short hikes near the park entrance.
More adventurous hikes are possible from the Alkali Flat trailhead at the top of Dunes Drive.
The "trail" consists of periodic posts in the sand, and visitors are free to run up and down the dunes at will.
Hiking among the rippled dunes, alternately mutating into rounded mountains, or mesas with surprisingly sharp edges, is absolutely mesmerizing.
The setting sun picks up two distant facilities outside the park, in the White Sands Missile Range, looking like the setting for a sci-fi movie.
With a chill wind and temperatures hovering in the 40s, I could not convince myself that I was looking at sand, and not snow.
No amount of tinkering with the settings on our cameras
could compensate for the striking contrast of the lapis sky and dazzling white dunes.
As we finished our hike, we spied a young couple heading into the dunes for a photo shoot. I thought this grab shot was quite good, but a quick search for #whitesandswedding
revealed that the dunes are a very popular setting for wedding photography. And why wouldn't they be? There's no place like it anywhere else on earth!
It was another bitterly cold night in the RV. Dang, with no heat, no electricity and no water, this is a lot like ... camping!
We warmed up with coffee and a second breakfast in the sun on the perfect patio at the Bean's new location (formerly Josefina's) in Old Mesilla. What a great trip! I'm sure we'll revisit this route again!