White Sands might be the warmest snow-like dunes you will ever see. Filled with grains of gypsum, White Sands National Park is an iconic, picturesque New Mexican landscape. From sledding down the sides of the sand dunes, to barbequing in the rest areas, Lobos can relax to their heart’s content. For the more adventurous type, Lobos can embark on different hikes across the park, but be sure to pack plenty of water and sun block, because it is a desert after all. On December 20th, 2019, White Sands National Monument was re-designated to White Sands National Park. The change provided the park with resources to share the area and its history with more people than ever.
The national park is a great place to learn about the state’s interesting geological history. Between 280 and 250 million years ago, New Mexico sat under the ocean, or the Permian Sea. During the next 200 million years, gypsum slowly precipitated out of the ocean and settled on the sea floor. Around 70 million years ago, the surface rose and created many of the mountain ranges we know today, such as the Rocky Mountains. Around 30 million years ago, an event that caused the uplift of the Sandia Mountains and many other mountain ranges, called the Rio Grande Rift, occurred. This event caused the Sandia Mountains to rise, forming a basin. Around 24,000 to 10,000 years ago, snow melt and intense rain dissolved the gypsum and allowed it to pool in the basin area. Then over the last 10,000 years, the climate began to dry out and the gypsum began to crystallize, leading to the beautiful desert we know and love today. Evidence of the Rio Grande Rift can be seen on campus. Just look east as the sun sets to see the beautiful Sandia mountains glow a deep red!
Interested in nearby camping opportunities? Check out our adventure to Oliver Lee State Park here.