White Sands - the Largest Gypsum Desert in the World

White Sands - the Largest Gypsum Desert in the World

Thursday, October 22 2020

During my road trip, I decided to stop by White Sands National Park in New Mexico. White Sands is one of the largest gypsum desert in the world. If you don’t know what gypsum is, it is the compound you add to your soybean extract to make tofu, a soybean coagulant. So if you’re ever feeling like making tofu, grab some! Just kidding. Please don’t. Keep our national parks intact.

The sand felt very chalky. It’s not the normal white sand from Florida beaches. If you’ve ever stepped on beach sand on a sunny day, you know that they burn! Well, the sand at White Sands is cool to touch even on the hottest day of the year. Thankfully, I visited when it was only about 77°F. It was hot, but it wasn’t your scalding desert hot. I was planning to go in the morning, but I failed to considered timezone differences between where I started and New Mexico. Be sure to not follow my footsteps!

Once in New Mexico, I took US-70 to White Sands. Since White Sands is right next to a missile range, there will be occasional missile tests, so be sure to check for upcoming closures on the park’s website when planning your visit.


The ride on US-70 was quite dry and boring, so be sure to have some good music and friends with you. You’ll occasionally come across interesting New Mexico houses and trailers on the side of the highway.


I didn’t lie to you when I said this park is right next to a missile range. As you can see, they event put one of display to prove my claim.


To your right, you’ll come across a White Sands National Monument sign that welcomes you to the park.


Don’t be too excited just yet! I was caught off-guard when I realized I had to go through a U.S. Customs and Border Protection checkpoint before I could get into the park. I think it could be because we were an hour away from the Mexico border. The officer asked if we were all U.S. citizens or permanent resident before he let us go on our merry way to the park. Our designated driver got too nervous that she almost gassed out of there when the traffic light was red.


Phew! That was close. We made it into the park in one piece.

Everyone! Welcome to White Sands National Park!


If you ever need to use the restroom, be sure to stop by the visitor center before heading into the park. There’s restroom in the park but no water to wash your icky hands.


The visitor center is also a museum, so if you want to learn more about the desert, feel free to stop by. The museum has a scavenger hunt booklet for kids to explore the desert flora and fauna, so there’s something for the whole family.


The visitor center is surrounded by plants native to New Mexico, so definitely check them out.


As usual, I took a few pictures of some plants to show off, so get ready!

From the previous picture of the visitor center, you should be able to see the soaptree yucca. Here’s a close up:


The soaptree yucca can grow to about 4.5 meters tall. For reference, the average person is about 1.7 meters, so the tree can get pretty tall. This tree typically grows tall as to not be buried by the desert sand, at least that’s what they say.

I also took a picture of a prickly pear cactus I found.


There were only two cacti that were interesting enough. The other one I found was the cholla cactus below.


You should also see some pretty turpentine bushes. Not everything is colorless in the desert.


After our restroom break and picture taking session, we proceeded to enter the park. The entrance fee was $25 per car, so get your cash or credit cards ready!


Since I was short on time, I only visited the interdunal boardwalk. There are definitely a lot more to White Sands than what I’ve experienced, so try to go early to explore!

Once you enter the parking lot, you’ll see an informational sign about the desert and its greatness.


And a sign about the interdunal boardwalk.


I honestly didn’t read them, so feel free to spend more time reading them. I was too excited to play in the sand to read. It was also too bright, so reading was quite difficult for me.


I couldn’t pass up some photo ops on the interdunal boardwalk, so here’s one.


Be sure to bring a hat or a cap to help with the sun. Maybe sunglasses too would help. Unfortunately, I lost mine, so my cap would do.

Also apologies for the crappy photos as it was quite difficult for an amateur like me to take photos in an extremely bright environment compounded by white sand. If you have tips, send it my way please!

I had to take this opportunity to add some pictures of myself to my collection so here’s some for you to laugh at. Just having a little fun. Don’t mind me.





Well, thanks friends for reading my blog. I hope you all enjoyed it. Until next adventure!