I’m dreaming of a white sands Christmas

Highlights from our road trip to White Sands National Monument with a quick stop at Great Sand Dunes

Advertisements

Highlights from our road trip to White Sands National Monument with a quick stop at Great Sand Dunes

We have a new Christmas tradition.  For the last 2 years, we have decided to take advantage of the holiday and the less-crowded national parks, pack up the pups in the Koopa Trooper, and go on a camping road trip adventure.

This year, the destination was White Sands National Monument in New Mexico.  We were excited about the warmer weather south of Colorado and that the park allows dogs!  (most national parks do not, so keep that in mind my fellow dog people!)

2016-12-23_09-51-35_092

We packed up Koopa.  We love this little make-shift camper so much.  It is always so exciting when we can throw all our bare essentials in and hit the open road!

Our first stop was in Great Sand Dunes National Park.  We have been here several times and it has a special place in our hearts!  This broke up the drive pretty evenly and we knew there was some good free camping around.

Most of our drive on the way to the Sand Dunes looked like this.  Foggy and icy, eerie but beautiful.

15724859_10154051422295877_552079321209601343_o

When we finally got to the park, the fog finally cleared up for truly spectacular views!  This was the first time we had gotten to see the dunes covered in snow.

2016-12-23_16-39-35_322-2016-12-30t17_35_16-76015723617_10154051421405877_8122982156398980519_o15724933_10154051421865877_6961066092904755773_o

We camped at Zapata falls.  We were the only ones there which was awesome.  And even better, we were above the clouds!  Check out that view!  Not bad, right?

15732247_10154051421465877_5725300177037480179_o

We stayed one night here and it go down to 6 degrees!  This is when the dogs really come in handy.  They are like little personal space heaters.  All 4 of us piled up on a full futon mattress, we manage to stay warm 🙂

Next, we were on our way south…. like very south… like almost in Mexico south.

As you can probably imagine, there wasn’t much to look at on the way but the desert has it’s own unique beauty.  Wide open spaces, straight roads, few cars, and the occasional mesa here and there makes for a calming landscape.

We camped at Oliver Lee Memorial State Park in Alamagordo, NM.  We planned to stay one night but liked this spot so much, we spent the remaining 3 nights of the trip there at site 42.  It was $10/night, has dog-friendly trails within the park, picnic tables, showers that you don’t have to pay extra for, fire rings, and nice views of Dog Canyon and the sunset.

15732517_10154051422080877_1227642229739069052_o

But the best view from our campsite was straight up. You could easily see the milky way with your naked eye.  It wasn’t the best time of year for stargazing in this part of the world because the galactic center is currently below the horizon but still . . . not too shabby.

We also heard a chorus of coyotes calling to each other each night.

15776754_10154051422405877_1980754347605912082_o

So.. confession. . . I was the one who planned this trip (hi, tiffany speaking here).  I got so excited to see that White Sands allows dogs in the park that I overlooked a VERY important alert on the park website. They were closed on Christmas day!

The original plan was to spend Christmas there and then head back towards CO and break the trip up again. Fortunately, my blunder didn’t ruin the trip (Zac insists 😛 ).  After an early and disappointing morning driving up to a closed gate to the park, we found a Denny’s (they’re always open!) and devised a new plan.  We went back to camp and hiked Dog Canyon with the pups, which turned out to be awesome BTW.

15726631_10207557261061888_696911076290120177_n15731958_10154042763925877_614209270051888780_o15800311_10154051422570877_4316290912187214773_o

Then we headed back to camp and took it easy. Roasted crescent roll-wrapped weenies over the campfire, got day-drunk, and read books.

So the day AFTER Christmas, we finally made it to White Sands.  Totally worth the wait . .

15724851_10154051420935877_6665453597434578730_o15724565_10154051422120877_6679460530538750864_o15800207_10154051421725877_1040590167627063455_o

15747647_10154046303475877_881391225936443354_n15747690_10154046303555877_2831820874200616879_n15800211_10154051421670877_8470581493451614581_o

275 square miles of sandy desert and large dunes made of gypsum sand (which, fun fact, doesn’t get hot to the touch so it won’t burn dogs’ pads!).  We bought a little sled and sped down the dunes, raced up them, and the dogs ran and ran for ever without running into another park visitor.  It was magical.

giphy

Let me know if you have any questions about the area!  I highly recommend making the trip!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s