Landmark: United States Logo

White Sands National Monument

about 25 km (15 miles) southwest of Alamogordo
New Mexico

Dunes at White Sands NM
Photo: Jennifer Willbur License: 1
This New Mexico site comprises the southern part of a 275 square miles (710 km<sup>2</sup>) field of white sand dunes composed of gypsum crystals. Gypsum is rarely found in the form of sand because it is water-soluble.

Unlike dunes made of quartz-based sand crystals, the gypsum does not readily convert the sun's energy into heat and thus can be walked upon safely with bare feet, even in the hottest summer months.

In areas accessible by car, children frequently use the dunes for downhill sledding.

The ground in the Alkali Flat and along Lake Lucero's shore is covered with selenite crystals which reach lengths of up to three feet (1 m). Weathering and erosion eventually breaks the crystals into sand-size grains that are carried away by the prevailing winds from the southwest, forming white dunes.

White Sands National Monument Categories

Other White Sands National Monument Resources

Map of the Area Around
White Sands National Monument

Visit our sister site:
Landmark Earth Logo