The striking desert of White Sands National Park

A sea of dunes in dazzling white, stretching as far as the eye can see… Welcome to White Sands, a protected natural wonder in New Mexico.

Sea to Shining Sea

A sea of dunes, in dazzling white, stretching as far as the eye can see... Welcome to White Sands, a stunning desert in New Mexico and the largest gypsum deposit in the world. The sand is composed of this crystalline mineral which gives it a striking color. The formation of this type of sand is rare and requires a particular kind of geography: it comes from Lake Lucero, situated southeast of the desert. This lake is normally dried out but is sometimes filled by rain coming from the surrounding mountains. This rain is saturated with gypsum which is soluble in water. Once the lake has dried out, the gypsum accumulates in the form of crystals beaten by the wind, which end up eroding and whose particles accumulate further along to form these dunes.

Having existed for around 10,000 years, this phenomenon is the reason behind the formation of these 710 km2 of white sand. The sand is around 9m deep on average, but some dunes reach 18m in height. White Sands is home to wildlife that has adapted to the arid conditions.vSome of the 800 animal species there have even developed colors that resemble the sand. A natural wonder, 300 km2 of this desert have been protected since 1933. This area officially became a national park in December 2019.


While the park has protected as a national park since December 2019 and as a national monument since January 1933, it has flitted off and off the list of potential World Heritage Sites. This battle only lasted a year as on January 24, 2008, the Secretary of the Interior received a letter demanding that the white sands be taken off of the list. No matter what they are classified as it is still a beautiful natural landscape that deserves to be protected.