White Sands National Park
White Sands National Park is one of the most breathtaking sights ever. Its gypsum dune field and its Alkali Flat nature trail are both must-sees for anyone who wants to experience the wonders of nature. If you’re looking to take a break from the city’s hustle and bustle, the park’s sands can be the perfect escape. You can hike along its trails, catch glimpses of wildlife, and explore the dune fields.
Species of plants and animals that live in the gypsum dune field
Many plants and animals live in the gypsum dune field in White Sands National Park. These animals and plants have evolved into unique means of survival for their habitat.
The gypsum dune field is part of the larger Tularosa Basin, a relict area of the Chihuahuan Desert. This basin is characterized by mineral-rich groundwater. Water is trapped and evaporated in the dunes, where it is transformed into selenite crystals.
Gypsum is a mineral that is soluble in water. In White Sands, gypsum is dissolved and carried away by the wind. When it reaches the sands, it morphs into dunes ranging from ten to sixty feet.
The dunes at White Sands are a natural wonder. They have been around for over ten thousand years. A few of the species that live in the dune field are unique.
Alkali Flat nature trail
The Alkali Flat Trail is a five-mile loop in the White Sands National Monument. This trail takes hikers deep into the dunes and offers panoramic views of the San Andreas Mountains.
Unlike other trails in the park, the Alkali Flats Trail is a bit more complex. It consists of a series of markers and a few shorter ones that are easily identifiable.
These markers are also accompanied by posts with mileage information. They are placed at a distance of between six and eight hundred yards apart.
Despite its complexity, the Alkali Flats Trail is easy to navigate. If you have a map, you can see the various landmarks on the trail. However, finding them in the middle of a dune field can be difficult.
In addition to a trail map, you should bring plenty of water. Summers in White Sands can be sweltering. As a result, heat-related illness is common and can be fatal.
Hiking trails in the gypsum dune field
If you’re interested in exploring the world’s largest gypsum dune field, you’ll want to check out White Sands National Park. The 275-square-mile park is located in the southern part of New Mexico. This desert area is home to a large variety of wildlife. There are 250 birds, 50 mammals, and 30 reptiles.
For a great view of the gypsum dune field, consider the Dunes Drive trail. This hike takes you into the heart of the dune field. You’ll see tenacious wildlife and colorful plants.
Another way to enjoy the beauty of the gypsum dune field is to take the Playa Trail. This is a short loop that traces a series of dunes. In the end, you’ll encounter a small play.
In addition to hiking trails, you can also drive along Dune Drive. This road is eight miles long. It’s paved most of the way, but some are rougher areas. However, most cars can handle it without difficulty.
The science behind the gypsum dune field
The White Sands National Monument is the largest gypsum dune field in the world. It is located in southern New Mexico and consists of 275 square miles of white dunes. This natural area is protected by the U.S. government and is part of the White Sands Missile Range, a military testing area.
The gypsum dune field is made up of 4.5 billion tons of sand. It is composed of about 98 percent gypsum, a sedimentary mineral. Typically, gypsum is dissolved in water. However, once the water evaporates, the minerals are left behind.
When the sea level dropped during the Permian period, gypsum was deposited on the sea floor. Gypsum is very soft and easily dissolves in water.
Winds in the southwest blow the gypsum from the lake bed to the dune field. They are constantly blown and move the crests of the dune by about 29 feet a year.