While at Big Bend National Park in Texas we purchased an annual National Parks pass. We did this in anticipation of us visiting more national parks this year along our travels in the western US.
Today we made use of our pass by exploring White Sands National Monument (WSNM) in New Mexico. For those of you who are not familiar with it, WSNM is a huge deposit of gypsum in the middle of the desert. We could see White Sands from miles away as it looked like a large snow bank in the middle of the tan desert sand. The monument was small in comparison to Big Bend, but it was impressive, none-the-less. It had a nice visitor center where we picked up the kids’ Junior Ranger booklets on the way into the park.
We purchased plastic saucer sleds at the gift shop as well as board wax to help the sleds slide on the gypsum sand. We drove through the park until we found our “perfect spot” and the sledding commenced! Our calves got a good workout as we trudged back up the hill after each sled ride down the dune. The gift shop recommended that we re-wax the sleds about every 4-6 trips down to ensure a good glide over the abrasive sands, which we tried to stick to….well, most of the time.
The gypsum sand was quite hot on the surface, but surprisingly if one digs down in the sand just a few inches, the sand below the surface was cool and comfortable. Pie, who declared she was “roasting” dug a small fox hole in the sand, laid in it, and covered herself with sand. Then both she and Bug took turns rolling down the hill before jumping back on the sleds. Miss Kicky Feet enjoyed playing in the sand as well, and was able to get her fingers in her mouth quicker than we could grab them, so she tasted some gypsum sand as well.
It wasn’t long before we were all quite warm, so we piled back into the vehicles and headed off down the highway en-route to California for a visit with family.