Sunday, 20 March 2011

Looks can be deceiving

No, we haven’t suddenly arrived in Alaska, this was the road in White Sands National Monument and the temperature was in the high 80’s!

The national monument lies in the Tularosa Basin and is surrounded by White Sands Missile base, both the monument and highway 70 are closed for a couple of hours twice a week while tests are carried out.

The beautiful adobe buildings that house the visitor centre were built in the 1930’s.

We followed Dunes Drive, one of the short hikes we took was the nature trail, it’s only a mile long, but really interesting. The park brochure tells you to wear eye protection, hats, sunscreen and take water, they are soooo right, it is hot out there and even with eye protection the glare is unbelievable.

Soap tree yucca grow in the park, as the dunes slowly move the yucca plants grow longer and longer to survive, then once the dune moves on they often collapse under their own weight.

Although it appears to be a waterless place, about 3 ft underground is a huge reservoir of water. Rio Grande cottonwood trees tap into the water and grow through the dunes, as long as their leaves are above the dune they can survive.

Dune sledding is a favourite pasttime and we thought about it - hey, it's the thought that counts right? - but decided against showing up the little kids. Well that's our excuse and we're sticking to it!

Following the orange markers we walked a short way along the 4.6 mile Alkali Flat trail.

We really enjoyed our visit and at some point, plan to go back and take the sunset stroll.

Have fun, we are!

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