As I recap my latest journey, I found that I needed to write it in parts because there’s just so much I want to share!
We flew into El Paso, Texas late at night and spent that first night in a hotel. We excitedly got up early the next morning to head to White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. We wanted to get there as soon as the Visitor’s Center opened because the backcountry camping permits are given on a first-come first-served basis and they only give out 10 a day. Luckily, we were one of those 10 and we scored a permit!
There were signs around the Visitor’s Center that warned of no water availability beyond the Visitor’s Center, so that was the last chance to fill up before heading into the dunes. It being the end of May in southern New Mexico, it was quite warm. With our permit in hand and bottles filled to the brim with water, we drove into the dunes.
As we drove deeper into the dunes, the view just got more and more magical. At every turn we were saying “Whoa!” We stopped a few times to get out and play in the sand. There was a perfect breeze flowing around, which made the heat of the day extremely enjoyable! Walking barefoot on the cool, buttery soft sand was an incomparable feeling. The deeper our feet sank into the sand, the colder it felt.
We arrived at the parking lot for the trailhead of the backpacking loop trail. Our backpacks weren’t packed yet, so we got all of our gear out of our suitcases and filled our packs, deciding to forgo shoes altogether because they definitely were not needed here. We slathered on sunscreen and I slid a buff over my face since the wind was starting to really pick up, causing sand dust.
Arriving at our camp, we were in complete awe. It was so secluded and truly felt like we were the only ones out there in the dunes. We set up our camp and hung out in a make-shift hut to get out of the sun. Before dinner, we ventured off into the dunes around our camp… running up the dunes and sliding back down them.
For dinner, we sat on top of the highest dune we could find around us and ate chicken out of a pouch and raw veggies. The wind was getting stronger and caused a bit of a sandstorm while we were eating. Every bite we took was sprinkled with sand and I had about 10 pounds of sand in my contacts! None of those inconveniences mattered though… After dinner, we were treated to one of the most stunning sunsets. As the sun was setting, the shadows made the dunes look completely different than they did during the day.
We decided to go rainfly-less on the tent that night… Being able to just open my eyes during the night to observe a wondrous sky illuminated by a bazillion stars and a mysterious moon left me astounded. I truly felt so connected, so sure, so at ease and peaceful.
In the morning, we awoke to the sun peeking out behind curvaceous, pink dunes and distant, hazy mountains. Having my morning coffee on a dune while the sun was making its appearance was such a simple and dreamlike moment.
After a slow and blissful morning, we packed up and hiked back out to take on our next venture.
I highly believe this magical place needs to be on everyone’s bucket list. And when you go, make sure to camp to get the full experience!