A Bucket-list Adventure
Like No Place Else on Earth
White Sands National Park
What They Are about
Rising from the heart of the Tularosa Basin is one of the world's great natural wonders - the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert, creating the world's largest gypsum dunefield.
White Sands National Park preserves a major portion of this unique dunefield, along with the plants and animals that live here. The plants at White Sands stabilize the leading edges of the dunes, providing both food and shelter for wildlife. Humans have made extensive use of the dunefield's native plant life, using some for food and others to create cloth and medicine. Native Americans wove mats with the thicker blades of grass, and consumed some of the grass seeds.
More than 800 different animal species inhabit the park, many of them nocturnal. Several species of animals have developed very specialized means of survival in this harsh environment, enabling them to thrive in a place with very little surface water and highly mineralized groundwater. Some species of mice, lizards, moths, and other insects that inhabit the dunes have gradually changed color through centuries of evolution, becoming substantially lighter than their cousins elsewhere. Many of these white species are endemic to the park.
With increasing visitation rates it is important to minimize our impact and leave as little evidence as possible of our visits to the wilderness, different parks, and other special places. Trips that include awareness and the use of minimum-impact practices preserve natural conditions of the outdoors which make the adventure enjoyable and allow others the same experience.
Leave No Trace, in short, means to leave the places that you visit the same way that you found them or better, whether you are picnicking, hiking, or backcountry camping. At its heart, Leave No Trace is a set of seven principles which can be applied in any natural setting to minimize human impacts on the environment. Following the Leave No Trace principles and combining them with your personal judgment, awareness, and experience will help protect the park's precious natural and cultural resources, as well as preserve the park experience for you and for future visitors!
White Sands National Park is a beautiful place. Enjoy the pristine beauty that these shifting dunes offer and have offered to other visitors for many years. As you visit the dunes, be sure to do your part to make sure that White Sands stays beautiful for future generations.