We rounded out my birthday visit to White Sands National Park on November 12  with the 4pm Ranger-led sunset hike. It was a chance to see what this special place had to show us in terms of light, shadow, and texture. And it capped the first day of a long weekend together enjoying New Mexico.Continue reading
On the afternoon of November 12 , my birthday, Sean and I continued to explore White Sands National Park. After our hike on the Park’s longest marked trail, we wanted to see two of its other, much shorter interpretive hikes/walks in the transition areas between desert, grassland, and dunes.Continue reading
White Sands National Park protects 145,762 acres of soft gypsum sand dunes and adjacent Chihuahuan Desert transition zones in the Tularosa Basin of southern New Mexico. It was first protected as a National Monument in January 1933 in the waning days of the Hoover administration. On December 20, 2019, congress upgraded it to a National Park, increasing its total area by some 2,000 acres and making it the sixty-second of sixty-three National Parks.
Earlier plans to consider expanding the monument were ultimately subsumed into the Tularosa Basin’s military use and legacy. The Park is surrounded by White Sands Missile Range and is adjacent to Holloman Air Force Base. The Trinity Site, where the first atomic bomb was detonated in 1945, is about sixty miles from White Sands National Park in the northern part of the Tularosa Basin.
The deep time legacy of the place was underscored in September 2021 when researchers announced the discovery of 23,000-year-old human footprints in the Park, hard evidence that not only had humans arrived in the Americas earlier than standard textbooks claim, but they had pushed far into the interior of North America some 10,000 years earlier than the 13,000-years-ago date that had until recently been accepted by mainstream archaeology.
Truly, White Sands is a special place.
For my forty-third birthday on November 12, 2021, Sean and I spent the whole day exploring the Park, the third birthday I’ve now spent in the Chihuahuan Desert.Continue reading
In November 2021, the Land Trust Alliance sent Bold Bison (my business partner, Patrick, and me) to Texas for ten days to conduct thirty-three video interviews with the staffs, boards, and supporters of seven land conservation organizations (land trusts) across the state. This whirlwind trip took us to Plano, Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and El Paso with the ultimate goal of a video portrait of conservation work across the Lone Star State.
The business trip’s conclusion at the far western tip of Texas coincided with the approach of my birthday. So Sean and I decided to roll my being in El Paso with a birthday trip to White Sands National Park and a long weekend in Santa Fe. I hoped to pick up a few other Park Service sites while we were there (Pecos National Historical Park, Bandelier National Monument, Valles Caldera National Preserve, Petroglyph National Monument).Continue reading