White Sands NP, New Mexico, USA by Robert Strain

Picture Story

Having photographed other dunes on windy days in the southwestern U.S., I intentionally scheduled my first trip to White Sands National Park when high winds were predicted. Because of the limited park hours around sunrise and sunset, I pre-arranged access to one of the few "hike-in" camping spots available. This allowed photography in an area that would not have footprints of the many day visitors to the park. That first evening was windy for sure. I wore goggles and a bandana to keep as much of the grit from my eyes and teeth as possible.

It was during the windstorm that I fully understood the difference in White Sands and other dunes. This is not really sand, but gypsum. Unlike sand, it stays suspended and rises high in the air. It penetrates everything and sticks to the rubber seal around your lens. It is very easy to get lost so I was careful not to explore too far beyond my campsite. GPS is essential as it is very easy to get totally disoriented. Returning to the safety of my tent, I looked up and saw that an opening had developed around me, revealing a bit of the striking sunset in the sky above. As always, the surface of these dunes reflects the colors in the sky above.

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