White Sands National Monument
White Sands National Monument is 275 miles of beautiful white sands, located in New Mexico. These sand dunes have been preserved for their beauty and uniqueness and are today celebrated as one of America's national parks. Find out what White Sands has to offer both the eco enthusiast as well as the casual observer.
- History. White Sands National Monument was established in 1933 by President Herbert Hoover. While the park was established to recognize the area and the largest gypsum dune field in the world, it was also created for economic reasons. The White Sands became a financial resource for southern New Mexico, creating jobs and attracting visitors. By 1948 over 100,000 people per year were visiting the monument.
- Pavla Blanca. White Sands is said to have a ghost, Pavla Blanca. According to legend the beautiful maiden, Manuela, disappeared in the sands while searching for her betrothed, the Spanish conquistador Hernando de Luna, who died in the sands. Some say that she appears around dusk when a breeze sweeps over the dunes, still searching for her love.
- Gypsum Dunes. One of the reasons that the White Sands National Monument is considered to be so special is because of the gypsum that forms the dunes. Gypsum is hydrous calcium sulfate. When water from a mineral-rich lake in the west of the monument evaporates, the wind carries the gypsum, forming the dunes.
- Visiting. The White Sands Monument is open year round. Although hours vary somewhat, in general visitors can explore the sand dunes from early morning until sunset. There is limited camping available as well. What can you do at the dunes? Visitors can hike, take photographs, have a picnic and even sled down the dunes on plastic saucers.