Skip to main content

Cross Country Roadtrip - Day 5 Part 1 - White Sands National Monument - 04/22/10

Day 5 would see the start of the journey back east, but more on that in my next entry.  On the way towards Midland, TX from Albuquerque, we scheduled a stop at White Sands National Monument - located on US 70 just southwest of Alamogordo.   I'm beginning to think I have this attraction to sand dunes as this is the third sand dune oriented park I have been to.  (Jockey's Ridge State Park along North Carolina's Outer Banks and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore in Michigan.)

White Sands National Monument was strikingly different.  The first reason is obvious, the white sand.  But the second difference is at White Sands you really are surrounded by what seems to be endless sand dunes.

I have some of my favorite shots from White Sands below.  The entire set (88 photos) are located on flickr.

One of the first stops is the Dune Life Trail.  The one mile loop trail is well marked and it is really the first opportunity to walk on the sand.  It is an interpretive trail with many markers explaining details about the dune's habitat along the way.

IMG_5701

A single tree - White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument

After the mile or so hike - it did seem longer - it was back onto Dunes Drive.  Dunes Drive leads to the heart of the sand dunes.  After awhile, the pavement ends and you are driving on what pretty much is compacted sand and gypsum.

The road looks like this!

Dunes Drive - White Sands National Monument

From there there are many stops for you to explore the sand dunes including the Alkali Flat Trail.   When hiking the Alkaki Flat Trail, individuals are required to sign in and sign out.  This is because of the extreme conditions - sand storms, low visibility and heat - can leave a hiker stranded.

One of the amazing things about being on the dunes is that you have a top of the world, last man standing feeling.  Though others are nearby, you can have a rather comforting feeling of isolation on the dunes.  It is quite an experience.

IMG_5770

The white dunes also put on a show.  Depending on the amount of clouds, the dunes can be a blinding white or a soft off-white.  With variable cloud cover, the colors of the dunes dance with the passing clouds.

Rolling sand dunes - White Sands National Monument

IMG_5762

From here it was back into Alamogordo for lunch and then east onto US 82 for an amazing drive.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Small Towns of Virginia Series - Charlotte Court House

This sleepy little rural town in Central Virginia can easily be overlooked.  Located miles from the Interstate or four lane US and Virginia Highways, Charlotte Court House in many ways is easily forgotten.  However, this tiny town of slightly over 400 residents holds a lot of Virginia and American History.

In 1799, Charlotte Court House saw the passing of the torch from an aging Patrick Henry and a young John Randolph.  The great debate over states' rights was the last for the fiery Henry and the first in public for Randolph.  Randolph would go on to serve in the US House of Representatives and U.S. Minister to Russia.  Henry, who was serving in the Virginia General Assembly representing Charlotte County at the time of the debate, died three months later.

Charlotte Court House is not the original name of the town.  Originally named The Magazine, then Daltonsburgh, followed by Marysville (which was the town's name at the time of the Henry-Randolph debate), Smithfield, and finally…

History of the Wawona Road (Yosemite National Park)

Recently I located a portion of the Old Wawona Road that was the original alignment used by wagons and early cars to get to Yosemite Valley from the south before the Wawona Tunnel was built.  Locating the Old Wawona Road was the primary driving force to head to a very dry Yosemite National Park this winter.






Generally I don't talk about the history of a route first, but in the case of the Wawona Road I thought it was particularly important to do so first.  The modern Wawona Road is approximately 28 miles in length from the north terminus of California State Route 41 at the boundary of Yosemite National Park to South Side Drive near Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite Valley.  A good chunk of people entering Yosemite Valley use the Wawona Road which generally is considered to be the easiest route...that certainly was not always the case.

The origins of the Wawona Road are tied to the Wawona Hotel.  The first structure in the Wawona Hotel complex dates back to 1876 which was built by the Wa…

Old California State Route 41 on Road 425B

While researching the history of the Lanes Bridge crossing of the San Joaquin River I noticed an oddity on the 1935 California Division of Highways map of Madera County.  Today California State Route 41 takes a crossing of the Fresno River west of the confluence with China Creek.  Back on the 1935 Map of Madera County the crossing is very clearly east of the confluence crossing on what are now Road 425B and Road 426 in Oakhurst.   CA 41 can be seen traversing southbound from Oakhurst on Road 425B towards Coarsegold on the 1935 Madera County Map.

1935 Madera County Highway Map

After viewing Road 425B on the Google Street Vehicle it was clear that the path downhill from the top of Deadwood Gulch was substantially more haggard than the modern alignment of CA 41.  I finally had occasion to visit Oakhurst today so I pulled off of modern CA 41 at Road 425B.   Immediately I was greeted by this warning sign.






Road 425B ahead was clearly a narrow road but barely wide enough for two vehicles.  T…