We woke up to a gorgeous morning on highway 152 and cleaned up a bit of camp before heading over Emory Pass. Being in a van limits hike-in camping spots somewhat but opens up others like this gravel patch that is 50 feet off of the highway, which we think would have felt too much like sleeping in a parking if we were camping with a tent.
On our way down to the White Sands National Monument we stopped in Hatch- home of the famous chili peppers. We had a cheap, but somewhat underwhelming enchilada lunch there for all of the hype. After doddling around in Las Cruces for a bit we hit the road west to find a campsite. About thirty miles to the west of the monument is a campsite right next to the Organ Mountains. This is actually a monument as well, but it was formed in 2014 so doesn’t have an established visitor center yet. The campsite was $7 a night, provided water and excellent hiking and views.
The next morning we got to the park early and explored the White Sands. This sand is made of gypsum, which is unusual to find on the surface of the earth because it dissolves in water so well. This is how the sand came to be here; the area used to be a large shallow sea and as the sea evaporated it left behind the gypsum and calcium sulfate. It sparked like snow in the morning sun and was quite cold on our feet in the morning.