White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
Last summer I went on a solo 7,200-mile road trip to 13 national parks around the western United States. The highlight for me was the unreal, disorienting landscape of White Sands National Monument. These surreal dunes are a place where people sand surf on discs, ride horses, and get married, but they've also claimed lives of people who've been disoriented by the blinding white sand and consequently died from heat exposure and lack of water. All while being located directly beside a US military missile testing range.
Standing atop the white gypsum dunes felt like being adrift on a sea of an alien planet. The look of the white sand changes so much with the varying light and shadow at different times during the day. Much like the waves on a sea, the dunes have a sort of impermanence as they're constantly swept and sculpted by the desert winds.
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