November 4, 2008

White Sands Backpacking

This weekend, I took a road trip out to New Mexico and Texas. Both were states that I had never been to before. Along the way, I stopped at the White Sands National Monument to do some backpacking.

If you’re unfamiliar with backpacking, it basically means you hike away from your car carrying everything you will need for the night. No coolers or cases of beer on this hike. So let’s get started…

First Impression

My first impression of the White Sand was “Wow!” I have never in my life seen something this cool (and weird) looking. It feels like you are either walking through a blizzard of snow or a gigantic bowl of sugar. Check out this picture to see what I am talking about:

View Of White Sands

White Sands, New Mexico

The Hike Begins

The hike to our camp spot was just under a mile so it was not too exhausting. The coolest thing is you walk along the dunes and look for posts in the ground. Once you make your way to a post, you look for the next one on the horizon and start walking to it. A lot different than the other hikes I have done where you simply follow the path. Check out this picture of me walking along the “trail”:

Walking On A Dune

It was a little difficult walking up some of the dunes since your feet sink in the soft spots but overall it was fairly easy. We only hiked for about 30 minutes before our camp spot popped up on the left side. From there, setting up the tent was easy since the ground is hard and there are no trees in site. Here is a picture of our campsite:


The Night Sky

It is dark…that’s all I can say. Supposedly it is some of the darkest skies in the United States and I believe it. I have never seen so many stars in my life. I tried taking a few shots of the sky with a long exposure and this is what I managed to get:

View Of The Stars

Notice how the stars are moving faster than you would think. I only took this picture for about 5 minutes and you can already see the tails from the stars.

The Worst Sleep Of My Life

It was dark, but that sure didn’t make it easy to sleep. I had the worst night of sleep ever. I literally climbed into my sleeping bag and stared up at the sky for 5 hours before I drifted away.

I think the main problem was the fact that the tent was about a foot shorter than I am. It makes it pretty difficult to get comfortable. That, and I tried going to bed around 7:30 PM and I usually stay up until 10 at home. So now your wondering,  why did I go to bed so early?

The answer…sheer boredom. After we set up camp, we basically sat on the sand and looked at a whole lot of nothing. It got dark really fast and from that point on it was pitch black. No chairs, no radio, no beer…but still worth it.


This was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had. Where else can you hike in to a remote desert and sleep under the stars in a big bowl of sugar? It was amazing how quiet it was while sitting in the dark. It’s sure a nice getaway from the big cities such as Phoenix.

I highly recommend that everyone gives this a try!

PS. Tune in tomorrow for another adventure, the Carlsbad Caverns.

12 thoughts on “White Sands Backpacking

  1. TheAndySan

    Nice pictures, Justin!

    My cousins were stationed at White Sands a long time ago and they’d talk about how cool it was to see all that white sand.

    Did you run into any wildlife there?

    Have fun at the Carlsbad Caverns!

  2. Justin Post author

    @ AndySan: The only thing I saw while in there was birds. I guess there isn’t anything else that really lives in there since there is no water. There might be some snakes but got down to around 32 at night so I am sure there hiding for the winter.

  3. Adam Pieniazek


    That is cool as heck man. I’ve always wanted to go somewhere really dark and just stare up at the night sky. I don’t think I would’ve been able to sleep too well out there either…though I’d probably just watch the night sky until the sun came up…dont really get too many stars here in Boston, or the northeast in general for that matter.

  4. Lia@Spiele Kaufen und Verkaufen

    That looks like a really unique place! I have traveled a lot on the east and west coast, but have always wanted to visit some other states. This looks like a great place to get a good experience and do some hiking. It’s like a cross between the sahara and a white sandy beach. It’s too bad you got bored, but I am really not quite sure what I would do either once it got dark and all!

  5. Jeremy

    This sounds really awesome, I’m definitely trying it if I ever get out that way. How cold was it? Anyways, just one thing. Find a way to make the pics BIGGER when you click on them, not smaller! You take some great pics with tons of detail, but it’s just lost when it’s so small. Check out a pluggin called Fancy Zoom. It makes the pictures bigger plus looks really cool at the same time. Check my blog to see what I’m talking about. Keep up the good work man, I want to see that Alexa rank sink like a rock 🙂

  6. Justin Post author

    @ Jeremy: It started out around 82 degree during the day but it got down to around 32 at night. There was frost all over the tent and backpacks so it was pretty fricken cold.

    Yeah, I really would like a way to show bigger pictures so I will start looking into some plugins today and see what I can come up with. Thanks for the tips.

    UPDATE – From now on, I will link the images in each post to the original size picture. That way when you click on an image, you can see the fullsize image. Just hit back to come back to the post.

    Let me know how it works!

  7. Jenn

    This place is definitely one of the coolest places in the southwest. It’s amazing how quiet it is, you don’t realize how loud your everyday life is until you spend some time out there

  8. Ace

    The pictures were awesome. I wonder how close that is to Vegas. I should drag some people and head out that way. Looked like it would have have been awesome to see.

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  11. Janice

    The night sky, white sand under the sun – very beautiful!
    White Sands Photo Gallery – was so great!
    I like that “Jumping In White Sand” photo.


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