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It looks like snow. It feels like heaven. And it’s closer than you think.

If you watched VH1 more than casually in the 1990s, you might remember Boyz II Men’s minor mid-decade hit “Water Runs Dry” and its corresponding video, which showed the boyz/men walking barefoot through what appeared to be snow as they pleaded with an unknown woman to give them another chance. It’s unclear whether she listened but either way, you need to visit White Sands National Monument in New Mexico where the video was filmed.

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White Sands sits along an anonymous stretch of highway 70 between Las Cruces and Alamogordo…

…If you’re not paying attention you could easily zoom past it, particularly if you arrive early in the morning.

As the sun begins to rise, however, it becomes clear that this is not just any desert…

…Waiting until sunrise also means the park will be open (which saves you from serving pesky jail sentences for trespassing).

Initially, you might believe White Sands is actually snow…

…were it not for cacti and succulent plants you see occasionally dotting its otherwise barren expanse.

The sand is in fact gypsum, which has two pluses…

…It looks like snow and it’s cool to the touch—even in New Mexico’s blazing summer heat.

Go ahead, walk on it…

…but watch out for those cacti.

You don’t need to be in an R&B supergroup to take amazing photos at White Sands…

…A dramatic yellow parasol and a billowy white dress do help, though.

ALSO: These rewards don’t look like snow, but they’re also pretty cool—join today!

White Sands feels endless when you’re in it, but it’s actually rather small…

…This is the park as seen from Cloudcroft (elevation 8,668 feet), a few miles southeast.

Actually, some perspective is good when visiting White Sands…

…Cool as the sand may be, air temperatures are often brutal, and since so much is within driving distance, you might as well chill (i.e. sit in A/C) until sunset.

While in the area, enjoy some local fare…

…Sopapillas are a Tex-Mex staple nationwide, but only puff up properly at New Mexico’s sky-scraping altitudes.

If you have time, take in scenery of a more man made sort…

…Taos is a long day’s drive from White Sands, but very doable as part of a long weekend.

Then head back to the sands—note they don’t look as white at sunset, but that’s okay…

You can bring a different drama to your photos, particularly if you’ve still got that billowy dress in your trunk.

*All photos by the author.


Tagged: New Mexico

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Robert Schrader
Robert is a writer and photographer who's spent the better part of the past decade roaming the globe. Read hundreds of inspiring, informative travel articles on his blog Leave Your Daily Hell, or see the world through his eyes on Instagram, where he's @leaveyourdailyhell.

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