Southern New Mexico looks a lot like West Texas. Which is not a bad thing. But never having driven this route, we wondered when we’d ever see a tree over 10 feet tall again.
It turns out we didn’t have to wait very long. Something we have been amazed by is the varied terrain one can encounter in a relatively small span of miles. Driving northwest from the Guadalupe Mountains of southern New Mexico, we traveled through the Sacramento Mountains along the highway that winds through this middle portion of Lincoln National Forest. We encountered winding roads with steep grades and enjoyed views of pine-covered mountains still sporting patches of snow. At one of the overlooks from high in the mountains we were stunned to be able to see White Sands National Monument in the far distance. Coming out of the mountains, the road brought us back into desert territory — into Alamogordo, where we made a pit stop at the Hi-De-Ho Drive In for cheeseburgers and fries. The place has been there forever and it’s still got it. Green chiles for the win!
Next we drove into White Sands National Monument. We wanted to know: How’d all that sand get there? Well, the gypsum from rocks in the mountains is dissolved by rain and snow, which ends up in the Tularosa Basin below. The gypsum is trapped and evaporates, leaving selenite crystals, which break down and becomes the blindingly white sand you see here.