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White Sands National Monument in New Mexico

The White Sands is also called the White Sands Desert but this is not a desert of sand but a desert of gypsum, actually it is the world`s largest gypsum dune field.

Don Bain writes:

The dunes are famous for their intense whiteness, but when I was there in mid-winter the sand was damp and pale tan, contrasting with patches of pure white snow. I hiked south from the road until I was alone and waited for the sunset. It was windless, absolutely silent, and the feeling of immense open space was overwhelming.

The dunes cover 275 square miles (700 square km) in the middle of the vast Tularosa Valley, with the San Andres Mountains to the west and the Sacramento Mountains to the east. The distant snow-covered peak to the north is Sierra Blanca (11,977 feet/3650 meters) on the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation.

This is high desert - the valley receives only about 6 inches (15 cm) precipitation per year, and has no streams or rivers. If it did, the dunes could not survive, as gypsum is water soluble.

Most of the valley is occupied by the White Sands Missile Range, uninhabited and closed to the public. It was 60 miles (95 km) north of here, at Trinity Site, that the world's first nuclear bomb was detonated in 1945. Even in this remote valley air pollution is visible in the distance, emanating from El Paso/Juarez 70 miles (110 km) to the south, where a city of almost 2 million straddles the U.S. Mexico border.

Links: White Sands National Monument (National Park)




QTVR Photo ©
G. Donald Bain Virtual Guidebooks

Don Bain is one of the veterans not just with QTVR but also with images on the internet. In 1994 when the WorldWide Web still was young, he founded the Geo-Images Project, one of the first image based web sites on the Internet. The gole was to provide images easy available for teaching geography.
His Virtual Guidebooks has more than 2600 Quicktime panoramas online from Alaska to Hawaii. You can see 2 more fullscreens by him in the gallery, Mount Whitney week 18 and The Olympic Rain Forest week 29-30.




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