Yesterday I took a day trip to White Sands National Monument with my friend Mark. When you arrive at White Sands, its alarming how suddenly the landscape changes from scrubby desert to giant white dunes of sand with very little vegetation. The dunes are comprised of gypsum -- remnants of an ancient lake bed -- and once you climb over a dune, you're surrounded by a vast, quiet, and alien landscape.
We walked the dunes for a couple of hours in the middle of the day, when the sun was directly overhead (so glad for a polarizing filter!). Then we took a little drive up into the mountains, stopping for lunch in Cloudcroft, NM. The transition from White Sands, up into the mountains was incredible... many ear-pops and a drop of about 30* in 20 minutes. As we climbed up into the higher elevations, the landscape changed from desert to pine forest, and we even witnessed a hail storm! After lunch we ventured back down to White Sands to photograph the dunes with new lighting conditions, and a very impressive storm on the horizon. If you haven't been to White Sands National Monument, you need to get there. It was an incredible day!