- Small animals have adapted to this harsh environment by developing light, protective coloration. Plants also have adapted, elongating their stems to remain atop the ever-shifting dunes.
Copyright: - US National Park Service
White Sands National Monument
White Sands National Monument lies at the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert in a mountain ringed valley named the Tularosa Basin. The park contains a significant portion of the world's largest gypsum dunefield. The white dunes rise 60 feet high and cover 275 square miles. The dunes are constantly changing, moving and covering everything in their path.
The environment within the dunefield is extremely harsh. A few species of hearty plants grow rapidly enough to survive burial by moving dunes, but several types of small animals have evolved a white coloration that camouflages them in the gypsum sand and allows for their survival.
Recreation - You should begin your trip to White Sands by gathering information at the White Sands Visitor Center. You'll find a museum, knowledgeable staff, book store and restrooms here. An eight-mile scenic drive leads from the visitor center into the heart of the dunes. Wayside exhibits at pullouts along the drive provide information about the natural history of the park. Numerous parking areas along the drive allow visitors to stop and walk in the white sands. An Interdune Boardwalk has interpretive exhibits for visitors to explore. A one-mile self guided nature trail provides access to the dunes and the ecosystem they support. A few other developed trails take visitors into the backcountry of the dunefield.
Climate - The climate for this region is dry and hot. Desert conditions pervade around White Sands National Monument. Lightweight and light colored clothing (like the animals that live in the dunes) are highly recommended for summertime. Spring, fall and winter are slightly cooler, light jackets and layers are best for comfort throughout the year.
The site lies west of Alamogordo, New Mexico, between the San Andres (west) and Jarilla Mountains (southeast).