I couldn’t believe my eyes. Pure white sand, going on for miles and miles. As we drove down the winding road, my family and I admired the mounds of sand. We watched the sun’s rays reflect off the shining sand, amazed at how white the color was, just like snow. We were driving into White Sands National Monument, a beautiful gift of nature that had been formed over the course of millions of years. The sand was not made of quartz, like most desert sands, but was made of gypsum and calcium sulfate, giving the monument its pure white sand.
I stepped out of the car and onto a large sand mound, the soft grains seeping between my toes. Running, I climbed up to the top of a dune, pushing down heaps of sand as I attempted to push myself up. I grabbed onto the dune, the silky soft sand rubbing on my palm. I pulled myself up to the top of the sandy mountain and gasped at the view. Hundreds of dunes, for as far as I could see, glistening bright in the sunlight and the clear blue sky. Looking down, I saw little waves in the sand, ripples created by the wind. As I looked around, I thought about the thousands of people that have been to this monument since its opening in 1933. I wondered how many people had stood in the exact place I was in, admiring the beauty of the sand, just as I was.
Walking around, I was shocked to find something prickly poking the bottom of my foot. I looked down and saw a solid piece of what seemed like drywall. I took another step and felt it crumble beneath my weight. These pieces were created from sunlight and rainwater. The rainfall would clump the sand together, and the sunlight would dry the pieces, making them a crispy whole. Standing on the cool sand at the bottom of dunes, I recalled the feeling of warm soft sand on the top. I bent over and dug my hand into the sand, noticing the change in temperature. The cool sand was darker, damper, and more packed down, more like a solid surface, rather than the bright, loose grains at the top. I broke up the clumps of sand with my fingers, the separate grains slipping between my fingers.
Throughout the day, we watched the sun move further west, until the sky was filled with gorgeous colors. When less than half of the sun peeked out from behind a dune, the light shone in the midst of an orange, yellow, and blue sky. The colors in the air reflected off the sand, painting the sand with a golden hue. As more time passed, the colors shifted into a pink and purple gradient as the sun lowered, before hiding completely behind a dune. The sun’s light still illuminated the sky, showing off the different colors around beautiful cloud formations, as if the sky was a giant painting. We walked across the dunes, admiring the stunning sunset. The whole sky was easily visible in this huge open space. Slowly, the sun’s light began to fade, all the colors disappeared along with it. We were left in darkness.
As we trudged back to the car, trying not to trip over ourselves in the dark, I reflected on my admiration for this amazing place and all the wonder I’d discovered exploring this National Monument. This thought led me to ponder how many people had felt what I had that day, and how many more would in the future.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.