Monday, November 14, 2011

White Sands National Monument… and maybe a bit of wine…

It is tuff being a tourist all the time, and today, we pushed the limit… what a day.  Based on the comments on last nights blog, a few fellow RV bloggers have beaten this path before us, but, what the heck… better late than never!  

Turned out to be a gorgeous day today, about 70 deg. F. with sun coming on in the afternoon.  Beautiful!

First on the list was  White Sands National Monument… you would not come to this corner of the world without going out there…  We put our National Monument Pass to good use today, making it out to the Monument twice!  Lots of pics tonight, so hang on to your laptop!

They had a great Visitor’s Centre, which we learned through a great video, all about the White Sands…


As you enter, you soon start running into the sand dunes…


We had no sooner entered the Monument, and this guy, along with a close friend of his, roared overhead, and this turned out to be a day long event… Holliman AFB, is right beside the White Sands Monument.


First stop was a nature walk in the early part of the sand dunes… there is quite a few plants in the sand here, to hold it all together… these dunes are on the move all the time… 15 mph wind is all it takes to start moving them…



These are the biggest gypsum sand dunes in the world… 275 sq. miles of these dunes… incredible.


This was about a 1 mile hike in the sand, Judy was right into it below…



This land has been protected in the Monument since 1933… you cannot come and mine it and start producing drywall!


We are in a basin, and surrounded by the mountains… a basin is like a bathtub without a plug to let it all out!


The first signs of “life” was this guy below that I found… he was all alone… with no ant hill in sight!  Check out the texture of the sand… eventually it turns to dust!


This guy was the next sign of life… don’t know what it is, but looks like some kind of beetle…


This is a cotton wood tree, and it survives living in all this sand, go figure… there is a water table, only 3 feet below the sand!  That is how they live.


After the hike, we carried up the road, to find some snow banks…



Looks like we parked in the snow below…


This nature trail was totally accessible…


The boardwalk appeared very new…


I never thought I would have to deal with snow plows on the road…


The pic below shows you how tall the dunes can get, and this is a small one!


We enjoyed the great drive through the Monument.


We will come back to the dunes, but we broke for lunch at the RV, and then went to visit Eagle Ranch Grove, where they grow Pistachio Nuts.


Male tree on the right, female on the left… they have to mate to make a nut… hmmmmmm…..


The nuts start growing in April, and are harvested in September… below is a few left on the trees now.


They are all hand sorted at this farm… a lot of care goes into processing.


Below they are roasted for about 15 minutes at 280 deg. F.



The Owners of the Farm, have this 1926 International Truck, that the Owner learned to drive on.  It has been restored and is still in use…They also own a vineyard, and produce wine to go with the nuts… a great combo… Judy stocked up on all the goodies…



At 4:00 this afternoon, we went back out the 16 mile trip to White Sands, as they hold a sunset nature walk… a Park Ranger puts it on, and it was real good, with quite a few people showing up for it…

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This is a piece of crystal from the dry lake bed, formed over many years… and if you scrape it with your finger nail, it turns to white gypsum… tons of it!  All these white sands were formed in under 4,000 years… a mere blink in time really.

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Our Ranger, Julia, is showing us the New Mexico State Flower, the Yucca Plant, which thrives in the sands… you see about 6 feet of plant, but don’t see the 12 feet beneath the sand!

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Great sunset out at the Monument.

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Looks what happens below when the plant roots hold the sand together, and prevents it from being blown away…

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OK, so the last picture is a great one of the setting sun hitting the mountains behind us…


Enough said tonight…

Till tomorrow…


  1. What? No sled ride down the sand? We loved this area and had so much fun watching a bus load of kids sled down and climb up over and over and over.

  2. We're going to be there in a couple of weeks! We'll be staying at Oliver Lee Memorial St. Park south of town while we visit our son, who's stationed at Holloman. I bet we'll see that pistachio place, too, as he asked us this weekend if we liked pistachios. He says he'll take us to a vineyard, and to Cloudcroft for some sightseeing. (I used to go there when I was in college at Texas Tech, so it'll be nice to see it again).

  3. what a fabulous day you and Judy had!..great shots of the White Sand Dunes!!!

  4. Now this is AWESOME!! I would love to check this out!!

  5. Oh how I miss New Mexico! If you go up to Cloudcroft, make sure to check out Inn of the Mountain Gods. Great views and wonderful buffet.

  6. We enjoyed the White Sands and same Pistachio Ranch as well and will probably be coming right through there in a few days again. There's a nice little mountain drive up to Cloudcroft too and when we were was the snow. Isn't it sooooo great to be on the move and seeing new and wondrous things all the time. If your heading out past White Sands to Las Cruces you will find the climb over the mountain long and steady. Great views back down the Valley from the top and then it's a steep drop down into Las Cruces. Heading west you might want to keep Silver City in mind. (Gila Cliff Dwellings) City of Rocks State Park south of Silver City is a great spot to stay, or Manzanos RV Park right in Silver City.

  7. Amazing how the photos look like snow. Sure brought memories back of our trip there two years ago. So many amazing things to see out West.

  8. Beautiful photos ~ looks like you had a fun filled day for sure!
    Have fun & Travel safe

  9. You sure managed to pack a full load into that day. The White Sands are amazing - at times, with the snowplows, it looks like a December day in Edmonton!

    Nice job on all the photos, it brought back some great memories for us!

  10. wow what great pictures....I can't get over them plowing sand with snow plow.....thats one load of sand...