Fall Road Trip
Aug 02, 2016 02:38PM
● By Ashley Pape
Discover a landscape quite different than the plains of Texas as you head west to New Mexico. Set your sights on two spectacular national parks: White Sands and Carlsbad Caverns.
First to White Sands
About a 10-hour drive due west from the Metroplex takes you to White Sands National Monument, a desert landscape of rolling white gypsum dunes that stretches as far as the eye can see.
The over 275-square-mile expanse of brilliant white sand in the Tularosa Basin is home to a diverse population of wildlife that’s adapted to their unique environment. See if you can spot a bleached earless lizard or a sand-treader camel cricket. Other creatures, such as the adorable apache pocket mouse or desert cottontail rabbit, wait until nighttime to come out of hiding. Maybe you can spot the tracks they leave behind?
Kids and adults alike can spend hours sledding on colorful discs (available in the gift shop) over the powdery sands, which look like banks of snow. But temps soar to triple digits, so hydration, sunscreen, sunglasses and protective clothing are essential.
Pack a picnic and take advantage of the many shelters provided for relaxing and refueling. Climbing the dunes is a leg workout like none other! And be sure to stick with your group. One dune is indistinguishable from the next, and tourists have been known to get separated easily.
The White Sands Trading Company gift shop stocks plenty of snacks and drinks, as well as T-shirts and souvenirs, but the nearest restaurants and hotels are in Alamogordo, about 13 miles northeast on Highway 70. The park closes nightly, so no camping is allowed onsite.