San Rafael Valley, AZ ~~ Photo by Bill Haas

Sunday, November 29, 2009


This was my second visit to breathtaking White Sands National Monument. For a different photographic experience from that of my original visit, I arrived in late afternoon to take advantage of the soft light and long afternoon shadows.

This national treasure is located at the Northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert in the Tularosa Basin. It is ringed by White Sands Missile Range on the North, East and South, and the San Andres Mountains on the West.
The glistening, brilliant-white dunes in White Sands NM are made of gypsum, not silica, have a powdered sugar texture, and the monument is the largest gypsum dune field in the world. The dunes move constantly and form four distinct types, more easily discernible from the air: Dome (low mounds), Barchan (crescent-shaped), Transverse (long ridges formed by joined Barchan dunes), and Parabolic (inverted Barchans, anchored by plants).
At the end of Dunes Drive is the Heart of the Dunes that includes a nature center, boardwalk, picnic shelters with sails (!) and an amphitheater.
Self-portrait. I like this picture -- makes me look skinny!!!!

Yes, the roads need to be plowed occasionally -- these dunes creep, grow, and advance constantly. They appear soft and gentle, but the environment is harsh, and plants and animals struggle to survive. And adapt.
Soaptree Yucca has adapted by keeping its leaves above the sand with an elongated stem. Some plants anchor parts of a dune with their roots and keep growing on a sand pedestal even after the dune has moved on.
Can you tell I love this place?


Sharon N. said...

Love the photos of White Sands and Carlsbad Caverns! Did you get to experience the snow in southern New Mexico as well, or did you continue west before it arrived?

Lorna... said...

Sharon, the weather through New Mexico was just glorious -- crisp and sunny. The first snow I've seen since last Winter was yesterday, on Southern California mountains around Los Angeles! Go figure!


Ilenevg said...

Life is full of ironies eh?

Anonymous said...

Seen all we need of those white 'bout something about our white mountains?

Anne and K.C.

Suz Quez said...

For some reason the pink sky, blue snow is my favorite. Great job. I love your simplicity, yet grandeur.