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White Sands is the trippiest national park in America.

Your pictures will look photoshopped in the trippiest National Park in America.

I can’t call this National Park a hidden gem because it garners nearly 800,000 visitors each year, but damn this is 1000% worth the hype. White Sands National Park is located 1.5 hours from El Paso, Texas and nearly 3.5 hours from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Until 2019, White Sands was a National Monument but officially changed to a National Park. What’s the difference? National Parks are protected because of their scenic, recreational and educational value whereas a National Monument may have objects of cultural, historical or even scientific interest.

I planned an entire road trip just to see White Sands because it's been on my list for so long. The entire experience is surreal and you really don’t have to spend an entire day there to fully take it in. I wish I could have been there for sunset too but my dad and I had to get to our next stop.

If you’re planning to add this natural gem to your bucket list or just want to hear some WTF facts, here’s what you should know about the trippiest National Park in America.

White Sands was underwater and known as Lake Otero 11,000 years ago.

As you’re surrounded by blinding white sand (don’t forget sunglasses!), try to imagine that everything the light touches used to be a body of water called Lake Otero. The layers of gypsum AKA the sand today is what was deposited on the seafloor long before this body of water began to evaporate.

The trippiest park in America used to be underwater.

It’s the biggest gypsum dune field in the world.

I know, what the f*ck is gypsum? Here’s my science lesson of the week…if you’re wondering why the sand is so perfectly white, it’s because it’s made of gypsum whereas most sand is made of silica. What’s so special about this though? Gypsum is very rare in sand form because it is a mineral that dissolves in water. That’s right – it starts to dissolve every time it rains.

But just how much of a big deal is this? White Sands covers 275 square miles of dune fields and the second largest in the world is a whopping 8 square miles in Mexico. Don’t mind me as I’m nerding out.

You need to go sand sledding.

It’s like Christmas Day except it’s sand and 90 degrees out. This is probably the only National Park gift shop that sells sleds and wax because we all know that for optimal sand sledding, you need to wax your sled.

Pro tip: wax it in the direction that you’re riding. After you go through the entrance, drive all the way to the back of the park because that’s where the biggest dunes are.

The trippiest national park in America plays mind tricks.

White Sands National Park is a (part time) missile test range.

Visitors can only access a small part of the 275 square miles of White Sands as the large sum of it is used by the US military bases. Upon arrival you may just see strange signs warning you to “not touch strange objects”. The first atomic bomb was detonated on the missile range which you can read more about here.

It’s home to many fossils of extinct creatures.

Can you even imagine what a ground sloth looks like? Here’s an illustration. Found fossils of footprints from saber-tooth cats, mammoths and more were said to be more than 60 million years old!

Hikes are like endless beach walks.

Honestly this entire National Park is a mindf*ck. There aren’t trees or bushes, but red cones throughout as trail markers because it all looks the same. With mountains in the distance, you can hike fifteen minutes in one direction and it’ll feel like you only walked 50 feet. I hope you really like long walks on the beach because this one goes on and on and on…

Get the best photos at the trippiest national park in America.

Just make sure you come prepared: sled and wax (obviously), sunscreen, sunglasses, hat and lots of water. Don’t forget your camera because the lighting is pretty damn perfect on a sunny day.

Be good,


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