Touch the Void in White Sands National Monument

The world's largest gypsum dune field beckons in New Mexico.
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White Sands

White Sands is otherworldly.

Less is more here, where a 275-square-mile swath of white outruns the sight line in every direction. The largest gypsum dunefield on the planet, White Sands registers as a smudge on satellite images, as if a massive storm was overtaking south-central New Mexico. Visitors this month know that’s not the case, as pleasant temps in the mid-70s and calm days make for the perfect recipe for ticking off the 5-mile Alkali Flat Trail. Less a “trail” than a general route, it circles long-gone Lake Otero with far-off views to the San Andres and Sacramento Mountains. The park closes to day trippers around sunset, but that’s the best time to see dusk paint the gypsum pink and orange, so gun for one of the 10 first-come, first-serve backcountry permits and post up along the 2.2-mile Backcountry Camping Loop. Permit Required for camping ($3/person); obtain from the visitor center. 

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