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Two hundred seventy five square miles of brilliant white, glistening sand - the largest gypsum dunefield in the world. White Sands National Monument is one of the world's great natural wonders, and it lies in southern New Mexico, in the middle of the Tularosa Basin.
The dunes are ever-changing by the same factors that created them - rain, snow and wind. Originating in the Sacramento and San Andreas Mountains that surround the basin, rain and snow break away the gypsum from the rocks and carry it to the basin. Normallly, from there it would be carried out to sea, but because the Tularosa Basin has no outlet to the sea, the gypsum is trapped. As water in the basin evaporates, the crystals are broken down by the wind into fine sand particles, collected, moved, pushed and shoved. Over time, 2000 feet of the deposit has formed what is now the White Sands. And because gypsum does not collect heat, the sands are always cool to the feet - even in the hottest summer months.
The sand dunes are surrounded by the White Sands Missile Range. Holloman Air Force Base is also adjacent to the park.
A visitor center is located at the entrance to the park, and past that is the entrance to the park via an eight-mile scenic loop drive. Along the drive are many pullovers and picnic areas. Also, the park has created five hiking trails of various lengths for the enjoyment of its visitors. Visitors are encouraged to take a trek into the dunes to discover a beauty like no other.