Adventures in Las Cruces Week—A Must-Stop at White Sands National Monument
White Sands National Monument opens daily at 7 am and it’s best to get there early before the blinding white sand radiates under the hot midday desert sun. Smack dab in the middle of the Tularosa Basin, these wave-like dunes of gypsum sand span some 275 square miles and are truly a wonder to behold. Once here, you’ll understand why it became one of America’s first National Monuments, created in 1933. Even the 45 mile drive from Las Cruces on I-70 is a joy, with the sun rising over the mountains and vistas of the wide open horizon as far as the eye can see.
I paid the $5 entry fee and then cruised along Dunes Drive. What I love about White Sands is that you can park at any number of lots along the road and simply walk atop the hard-packed grooved sand creating your own set of footprints. At first, you’ll pass a limited amount of growth like yucca plants and their distinctive, almost prehistoric-looking flower. As you drive further in, you leave the scrub behind and all you see is an otherworldly terrain of rolling dunes. Locals like to bring their sleds to slide down the sand. Others will happily walk into this blanket of serenity for as long as necessary.