Monday, June 15, 2015

road trip day six: white sands and drive to gilbert

We started our day at White Sands National Monument southwest of Alamogordo.  Due to missile testing at White Sands Missile Range, it is imperative to check the closures schedule as the park does close several mornings a week for missile tests.  White Sands National Monument was created to protect part of the largest gypsum dune field in the world and it is absolutely breathtaking.

white sands
Our first stop was at the Visitor's Center to learn about the dunes: they were created from selenite crystals that eventually wore down into gypsum sand.  Unlike normal rocks, gypsum is soluble but never washes away because there are no rivers out of the Tularosa Basin.  Instead, as the water evaporates, beautiful selenite crystals are formed and over time, these crystals become smaller and smaller due to the effects of wind and rain, leaving the nearly pure gypsum sand to blow around and create the dunes.

climbing hills
The Visitor's Center recommended buying a sled so that the kids could ride down the dunes.  We purchased a sled, and headed out to Dunes Drive to make our way into the park.  Once out of the car, the first thing that the kids commented on was that the sand was not hot at all- it was almost cool under our feet!

top of the hill
The kids made it up to the top of the hill and then it was time to ride down.

christopher sledding
Christopher sledding

nick sledding
Then it was Nick's turn.

desert beauty
While they took turns going down the dunes on our (one) sled, I took time to photograph the surrounding dunes.  The wind erases the footprints of travelers over time but because it was so hot out we didn't hike far enough into the dunes to find untouched ones.

kids sledding
We made some new friends on our dune and they had extra sleds and were willing to share so all of the kids were able to go down together.  Ellie sat on a sled but was not happy about it AT ALL!

ben and lexie sledding
Ben and Lexie sledding

lexie falling
Because Lexie is so light she could really get the sled going which resulted in her rolling down the dune.  Luckily, she ended up at the bottom with a smile!

white sands
The big kids had a great time exploring the park- especially because it was like nothing they had ever seen before!  We spent about an hour riding down the dunes and could have spent several more so I know that it will be somewhere we return to on another trip out west. 

white sands beauty
While I'm the one that picked to go to White Sands and knew what to expect (from reading travel books), even I was in awe of the beauty of the dunes.

made it to az
After our morning fun, it was back to the van to finish our drive to Arizona.  The kids (Nick especially) were so excited to see the saguaros because it meant we were finally in Arizona!  We made a quick stop at our old house in Queen Creek (it didn't look as nice as when we lived there!) before meeting Grandma, Grandpa, Auntie Janne, Uncle Adam, and Hannah at Barro's Pizza for dinner.

Miles Driven Day Five: 420
Total Trip Miles: 2114

1 comment:

  1. I can't believe you let Lexie go down the dunes sitting "criss-cross" on the saucer! At least she figured out how to unfold her legs when she toppled out!

    Your photos are beautiful!! I can't wait to go there someday.


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