This weekend my husband and I went to one of the most magical places on Earth, White Sands National Monument. I had been told about its incomparable beauty, but had to see it for myself.

Before we made it to the monument, we stopped briefly at the New Mexico Museum of Space History up in the mountains of Alamogordo, NM. We were pleasantly surprised at the outdoor rocket garden before even going in to the museum.The museum had a great mixture of American and international space history. Ranging from Yuri Gagarin’s first flight to space to Col. Joe Kittinger’s life accomplishments as a test pilot, all the way to the X-Prize floor with displays on SpaceX and Virgin Galactic. it was a very well curated museum, especially being out so far into the heart of New Mexico.

As we made our way west across the Tularosa Basin, we passed by Holloman Air Force Base. We were hoping to catch a few planes in action, but it must’ve been a day of rest because the place felt like a ghost town. We weren’t too worried, we knew that White Sands Missile Range had a museum right up the road, plenty of missiles and military vehicles to see later on.

We pulled in to the White Sands National Monument visitors center and watched an introductory video about the history of the sands and how they came to be. Did you know that White Sands is only about 1000 years old? Due to the dry nature of the area, paired with rain water being trapped within the basin, the mountain run off brings down Gypsum, which settles and dries up into selenite crystals. The winds wear down the crystals into smaller pieces and eventually into a fine grain sand. The Gypsum sand is so soft that is feels like talcum power. I can speak from experience, my feet felt like they were getting a massage as we slid down the side of the white dunes. Incredible!

Walking towards the San Andres mountains through the dunes of White Sands.

Walking towards the San Andres mountains through the dunes of White Sands.

We drove the entire distance of the road at about 8 miles in and parked the car. My husband had said that years ago he received advice from a park ranger to walk for an hour, get away from people, and you will feel like you are on another planet. We started off heading north along the trail. Up one dune, down the next. Slowly we began to feel the silence, the clam, the absolute beauty.

Once we found the “perfect” dune, we set up the tripod to catch a few photos and take in the view. We sat down in the sand, looking ahead across the dunes toward the San Andres mountains. In the distance you could see dust devils dancing along, picking up the white color of the sand below. As a skydiver, we normally get frustrated at the sight of dust devils, but this time it was pure beauty. Nature just doing its thing.

I now know what it feels like to be in the middle of nowhere, alone on another planet. I have a feeling I’ll be back there soon and many more times to come.

Photo Credits: Dennis Bonilla