So on our way to Carlsbad Caverns, we did a side trip to the White Sands National Monument.

The White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico is comprised of great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand and is host to numerous different plants and animals.

       White Sands National Monument

This national monument, is almost unearthly when you’re either driving through or getting out to take a small hike to get some pictures. Above I manged to capture some of the swirling sand behind a couple of dunes. Climbing the dunes was interesting (though I think I managed to get quite a bit of sand accidentally in my sneakers–one drawback of having shoes that have the “holes” in them for your feet to breath).

                Lizard at White Sands

In regards to wildlife that if found within the boundaries of the monument–most of them are either nocturnal, or they live within the scrub areas (and those are usually the rattlesnakes, and I heard one already–didn’t really need to see one). There are suppose to be mice, and foxes, and there were also different lizards that also call this place home.

Above is the bleached earless lizard. This lizard is related to other “earless” lizards, but adapted to the region of the white sands–it is extremely pale (we almost missed seeing this guy run across the ground). It was unusual to see them during the day (usually seen in the morning near the boardwalk), but we saw this guy out in the dunes.

                 Gypsum centaury

There were several different plants, that I also managed to get some pictures of. One of them (above) was this beautiful pinkish flower on this one plant. That plant turned out to be gypsum centaury, and while they are usually found around springs or streams, but can also be found in the interdunal area (or the low areas between the dunes).

                   Yellow flowers

Here is another picture of another plant, that had bright yellow flowers. I’m still in the process of trying to identify this plant. Other plants included species of yucca, and grasses.