If you ever dreamed of sandboarding down dunes as white as snow, go to New Mexico. The presence of white minerals and unique environmental conditions give the sand a spectacular bright color you will not find anywhere else – and makes a perfect spot for sand surfing.
Sand Sledding at White Sands National Park
The white sands of New Mexico are stunning white dunes that get their color from a mineral called gypsum and make for one of the most beautiful places where you can go sandboarding. The White Sands National Park (formerly established as the White Sands National Monument) is part of the Chihuahuan desert and easily reachable from Texas as well. Sand sledding is a very popular activity amongst adults and children and you can rent a plastic disc sled directly at the park. Gypsum sand is more sandboard-friendly compared to regular quartz sand, which is why plastic dune sleds are suitable for sliding (although a wooden sled with a laminate base will alway perform better). You will still need to wax your board, sandboard wax can be purchased directly at the site.
Things to do and other activities at White Sands
Besides sand sledding, these stunning dunes are worth visiting for a hike, camping, or pic-nic. The scenery is truly unique and wonderful and the gypsum sand rarely gets hot, making it possible to walk around barefoot on a hot day unlike other deserts. One portion of the park is dedicated to sand duning and access with your off-road vehicle will cost you 20$.
Trekking enthusiast? White Sands has five trails for hiking at different difficulty levels:
- Interdune Boardwalk – 0.4 miles beginner friendly trail
- Playa Trail: 0.5 miles flat trail
- Dune Life Nature Trail: 1.2 miles trail for with a few hills to climb
- Backcountry Camping Trail: 2 miles moderate difficulty trail
- Alkali Flat Trail: 5 miles roundtrip trail for expert hikers who like a challenge
Why are the sand dunes in New Mexico white?
The White Sands are made of gypsum rather quartz. This mineral is composed of calcium sulfate and water, and it is rare to find because water-soluble, which means rain would normally dissolve the sand. Thankfully, the White Sand National Park is located in a high desert area at the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert, where rain is virtually absent.