photography from the ground up

White Sands

White Sands National Monument in south–central New Mexico is  unique in many ways, but, by far, the most striking difference from the surrounding landscape is the sand from which the monument gets its name. It is actually gypsum that has washed down from the nearby San Andres Mountains. The gypsum, mixed with water flows on to a large playa (seasonal lake). As the water evaporates, the gypsum sand is left behind, and is then carried by the wind to become part of the dune field.

The White Sands dune field covers approximately 275 square miles of New  Mexico’s Tularosa Basin. A little over half of it is part of White Sands Missle Range; the remainder (approx. 115 square miles) comprises the monument. It is an amazing place where the vegetation, and the wildlife cling to life by the most tenuous of threads.

In the summer, daytime temperatures can reach over 100° F., and in the winter, they can plunge to below freezing. If you plan to visit, be sure to come prepared for any kind of weather, and carry plenty of water.

No matter what time of year you visit White Sands, you will be treated to an amazing landscape, and the opportunity to find solitude in the dunes.

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160 responses

  1. Nice photos. I am such a mountain girl, though, so it is harder for me to appreciate the desert, I think.

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 10:20 am

  2. I had not heard of White Sands National Monument before. Your images are stunning. Thanks for sharing them.

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 10:26 am

  3. The textures in the sand are super-cool…almost other-worldly.

    Truly haunting images – thank you for sharing!

    🙂

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 10:27 am

  4. Those pictures are breathtaking.

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 10:27 am

  5. Beautiful. Wonderful contrast, both light and texture. My daughter and son-in-law live near there. Hope to visit soon.

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 10:38 am

  6. Beautiful photos, wow … a place like that exists, amazing! Congrats on Freshly Pressed.

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 10:40 am

  7. So pretty. I absolutely love the sand “Waves” that the wind forges — it’s all very ZEN. Great work!

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 10:49 am

  8. Really beautiful pictures and great blog, I’m glad I found it!

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 10:50 am

  9. Great pictures….thank you!

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 10:54 am

  10. i’ve been craving to go. maybe this year…

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 10:55 am

  11. hmunro

    Gorgeous images, Jim. I love how you manage to both fill the frame and yet convey the desolate expanse of the landscape. Well done, and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 11:22 am

  12. Absolutely beautiful photographs! Congratulations.

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 11:25 am

  13. Those sure are white sands!

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 11:28 am

  14. i love the ripples in the sand made by the wind.
    beautiful pictures, thank you for sharing !

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 11:31 am

  15. Liz

    Gorgeous pictures!

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 11:32 am

  16. Kathy Booker

    Stunning – absolutely stunning! I’d love to know what kind of camera and lens you use to capture such detail.

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 11:37 am

    • Jim

      Kathy:
      This image was made with a Nikon D700, and a 16-35mm f4 lens with a circular polarizing filter

      Like

      March 4, 2011 at 5:02 pm

  17. artfashionandhim

    doesn’t even look like sand!!! Amazing photos!

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 11:37 am

  18. Thank you for two gorgeous ying/yang shots of an amazing landscape!

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 11:40 am

  19. Pingback: White Sands (via Jim Caffrey Images Photo Blog) « Manushya Chitt

  20. All County Insurance - Brea, California

    Absolutely beautiful photography! I had no idea these white sands existed in New Mexico, I really need to visit! Congrats on being FP!

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 12:09 pm

  21. That is gorgeous! Nice work.

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 12:40 pm

  22. That first photo is fantastic – makes me want to be there.

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 12:47 pm

  23. ddLynnssundry

    Stunning! This is now a “must see” for me!
    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 12:58 pm

  24. Wow, those photos are incredible!

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 1:01 pm

  25. Stunning! From the cowfields of Tennessee, thanks for a look at the beauty of a different nature 🙂

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 1:13 pm

  26. I’ve been to New Mexico about three times but have not been to this area. Would love to live there, it’s so perfect to me.

    Your photos are wonderful and just what I needed to keep my dream alive of moving to New Mexico!

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 1:16 pm

  27. Wonderful pictures. And congrats on being freshly pressed!

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 1:57 pm

  28. I have plans to visit White Sands sometime in the next year or so. Thank you for posting these pictures.

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 2:18 pm

  29. Rudolf Vlcek

    breathtaking!

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 2:50 pm

  30. Really beautiful, I need to drive down there soon!

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 3:00 pm

  31. Exquisite pictures! I’ve never seen anything like it before!

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 3:17 pm

  32. Erin

    The contrasts with the light and dark cloud-filmy sky agasint the rippled white sand, the spiky yucca…really captures the essence of the place.

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 3:17 pm

  33. so beautiful. want to be there right now.

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 3:22 pm

  34. Oh wowww you take beautiful shots!! 😀

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 3:33 pm

  35. I live and work in El Paso and we love to take trips over to White Sands. Your photo captures my favorite “look” of the park. I love how it can remind you of a beach… without the water. The sky is endless and beautiful. Thanks for sharing your work and making it the “Fresh Press” Page!

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 3:36 pm

  36. I’ve always wanted to visit the dunes. Your pictures are gorgeous. Congratulations on being FP!

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 3:41 pm

  37. I love your landscapes – breathtakingly stunning. I have been to White Sands – only my photos don’t look this gorgeous 🙂

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 3:56 pm

  38. That was new. Thanks.

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 4:22 pm

  39. i want to sleep on that sand

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 4:58 pm

  40. Great post . Amazing Pictures .

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 5:22 pm

  41. Jim

    I am honored to be “Freshly Pressed”, and I would like to thank everyone for their kind words about my blog and my photography.

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 5:30 pm

  42. Very beautiful picture. Thanks for sharing.

    http://melodyinwonderland.wordpress.com/

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 5:57 pm

  43. Those pictures are very cool !

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 6:30 pm

  44. SWK

    This is BEAUTIFUL.

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 7:09 pm

  45. Congrats on being ‘freshly pressed” – great pics – simple beauty! My family and I visited some friends in the San Luis Valley (CO) side of these sand dunes and hiked them. I hail from west Michigan near Lake Michigan where we see sand dunes all the time. I was amazed at the dunes in the mountains. Thanks for bringing back great memories. Keep up the good work!

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 7:36 pm

  46. very nice capture! makes me want to get my hand into the monitor, grab a handful of white sand and put em in a glass jar

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 7:56 pm

  47. maru

    Such beautiful photos! You are good at this. The ones of Pueblo Pintado are amazing, just love them. Congrats for being Freshly Pressed.

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 7:57 pm

  48. MMM, how lovely!

    Thanks for the photos, and yet again another beautiful window into the world of Mexico!

    Muchas Gracias!

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 8:19 pm

  49. 無敵陳超

    It’s fantastic

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 9:07 pm

  50. Absolutely beautiful!

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 9:24 pm

  51. Love those images you have of the white sands in New Mexico … awesome captures would love to visit there myself one day ….

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 11:13 pm

  52. Oh I really wanna be there~ it’s so wonderful

    Like

    March 4, 2011 at 11:36 pm

  53. Very unique indeed.

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 2:08 am

  54. I so want to visit this place with my family!

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 2:34 am

  55. Excellent photos, great choice on the lighting. The same scene can look very different as the light changes during the day.

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 2:40 am

  56. What beautiful desert photos. Sand texture in a different light!

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 2:48 am

  57. Beautiful!

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 3:11 am

  58. Love these — love sand — especially when it has the beach with it! These are great!

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 4:27 am

  59. Mike

    That first shot is fantastic, love that sand pattern.

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 4:54 am

  60. amazing photos! wants to see more!!!

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 5:21 am

  61. amazing photos! want to see more!!!

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 5:23 am

  62. Pingback: White Sands (via Jim Caffrey Images Photo Blog) | sedoff09

  63. thepoconos123

    Your photos are fabulous. I have been to White Sands and it is such a phenomenal site, just as your pictures depict. Thanks for the photos. Beautiful.

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 6:13 am

  64. Crhisty

    What an amazing image! I love all the additional info you provide, as well. My students are shortly to begin a regions project in Social Studies. I think this would be some amazing information for them to have on New Mexico! Thanks!

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 6:13 am

    • Jim

      Thanks Christy. White Sands is a great place for kids, and there is plenty of information available at the Visitor’s Center. Enjoy!

      Like

      March 5, 2011 at 10:24 am

  65. Incredible! Amazing! I am in awe of your talent!

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 6:49 am

  66. I live about an hour from here, u really captured the beauty, well done 🙂

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 7:03 am

  67. Stunning photograph. The colours are amazing.

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 7:12 am

  68. kcgentile

    Beautiful! Love the yellow orange light and the blue in the shadows, and the way the plants lead your eye into the photo. Was it morning or evening?

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 7:14 am

    • Jim

      Thank you. It was evening.

      Like

      March 5, 2011 at 7:59 am

  69. It’s wonderful

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 8:16 am

  70. next best thing to being there. very cool.

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 9:15 am

  71. Wow! Amazing landscapes, solitude indeed!

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 9:18 am

  72. I really love White Sands! Awesome shots!

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 9:31 am

    • Jim

      Thanks. It’s a truly amazing place.

      Like

      March 5, 2011 at 12:29 pm

  73. Scott Stahl

    Jim this is very nice work and the shots are great. It’s close enough that I already should have been there. Looks like a good route to the Dunes in Colorado from Phoenix.

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 9:39 am

    • Jim

      Hi Scott:
      I would highly recommend a stop at White Sands. Great Sand Dunes in Colorado is also pretty amazing. Enjoy your trip, and thanks for the comment.

      Like

      March 5, 2011 at 10:20 am

  74. Beautiful. It looks like the snow drifts out here, with a few dessert flowers splashed in. Thanks for sharing this part of our country with us!

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 9:40 am

  75. Breath taking.

    Blessings,

    Ava
    xox

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 10:13 am

    • Jim

      Thank you Ava!

      Like

      March 5, 2011 at 10:16 am

  76. Love the pics. Brings back tons of memories when I lived out there in 1980’s 🙂 It is one of the amazing “Must See’s” in the USA

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 11:46 am

    • Jim

      Thanks Miles, I agree: it is a must see. I try to get down there at least once a year.

      Like

      March 5, 2011 at 11:58 am

  77. Absolutely wonderful pics and thans for the info.

    Not a single footprint on the sands. It is worth framing.

    Great Capture.

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 11:55 am

    • Jim

      Thank you. I hope you get a chance to check it out.

      Like

      March 5, 2011 at 11:59 am

  78. Amazing pics!! The white sands look like snow in a desert!

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 2:59 pm

  79. Margaret Ivory

    grerat photos Jim…keep up the great work.

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    • Jim

      Thanks Margaret.

      Like

      March 5, 2011 at 5:41 pm

  80. Hello, the landscape is absolutely beautiful and your photographs magnificent!!
    I love desert landscapes.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    • Jim

      Thank you so much Iguana. The desert is one of my favorite places to photograph.

      Like

      March 5, 2011 at 5:42 pm

  81. I had no idea a desert could look so much like a beach. The second shot is my favorite, with the color in the sky.

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    • Jim

      Thank you. It does resemble a beach. There’s no water (to speak of) in the vicinity though!

      Like

      March 5, 2011 at 5:44 pm

  82. Mus

    Beautiful images.

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 6:30 pm

  83. Mohit Sharma

    Nice pictures

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 6:55 pm

  84. Completely awesome and breathtaking. makes me wanna travel…some more.

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 7:33 pm

  85. cool composition.

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 7:49 pm

  86. it’s look like beach sand..

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 8:30 pm

  87. fionaqiqi

    cool. like snow~

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 8:40 pm

  88. I have to see this! Beautiful photos!

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 8:49 pm

  89. Love love this.. being a Girl (Now in Texas) from Cruces.. have not been to White Sands since I was a girl.. thanks.. for the nice roll back in my memory..

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 9:41 pm

  90. Everything And Everywhere

    Wow! The pictures are so beautiful.

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 9:52 pm

  91. Nice! I love the colors and the balance in the composition. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 10:05 pm

  92. Beautiful pictures and wow 🙂

    Like

    March 5, 2011 at 10:26 pm

  93. JT

    Great desert shots. Ive been to the Yuma area several times and visited several deserts within a 3-hour drive, but haven’t yet been visited White Sands. Definitely on my list now though.

    JT
    http://www.jltyler.com/silouette

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 1:03 am

  94. It is a good picture. What drove you to capture the picture of White Sands?

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 1:50 am

  95. Lovely pictures, could I use them giving the source?

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 2:57 am

  96. Beautiful, beautiful landscape. I’ve marveled about this landscape for a while, but have never visited. I have photographers like you to thank for bringing this different scenery available. Many thanks!

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 4:43 am

  97. gorgeous images. Really beautiful landscapes

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 5:13 am

  98. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 5:54 am

  99. Jim, your photographs are gorgeous (so is your writing, btw). I’ve been blessed to have driven through the White Sands national monument area once in my life. I vaguely recall its beauty; thanks for the visual reminders. God bless.

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 6:28 am

  100. nice pic ^__________^

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 9:07 am

  101. beautiful photos of a beautiful place

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 9:54 am

  102. Denise

    Its funny that this image showed up on WordPress as I was logging into my own site. It immediately caught my eye because I’ve been fascinated with this place – I’m going to New Mexico in April and really want to visit White Sands but from what I hear, it’s quite a trek south from Santa Fe area – any recommendations on best route (and necessary time) to get there?

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 10:12 am

    • Jim

      Hi Denise:
      I think it’s about a 4 hour drive from Santa Fe, maybe a little more. But, it’s well worth it, especially if you’ve never been there. I try to get down there at least once a year. Head south on I-25 from Santa Fe about 140 miles to the San Antonio, NM exit (I think it’s exit 138), this will put you on US 380 eastbound. When you get to Carrizozo, turn right onto US 54 and stay on it until you get to White Sands. As I said, the trip is well worth the effort in my opinion.

      Like

      March 6, 2011 at 10:29 am

  103. beautifully captured 🙂 good job!

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 10:21 am

  104. Pingback: White Sands (via Jim Caffrey Images Photo Blog) « Barbara Edwards Soprano

    • Jim

      Barbara:
      Thanks for the kind words about my photography, and for the link. I appreciate it.

      Like

      March 6, 2011 at 11:23 am

  105. This is a different place than the Great Sand Dunes National Park, is it not? This looks interesting too. Will try to get there some day.

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 11:56 am

    • Jim

      Yes. Great Sand Dunes is in south–central Colorado. White Sands is in south–central New Mexico. They are both amazing places to visit and photograph.

      Like

      March 6, 2011 at 12:00 pm

  106. Stunning photos. The world can be amazingly beautiful and you have captured her beauty with great success. Thanks for sharing these pics and congrats on being FPd.

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 12:05 pm

  107. Love that top shot of the dunes, Jim. Beautiful!

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 12:22 pm

  108. Pman

    Loved your commentary on White Sands. Very easy to read, logically laid out thought and interesting, including very interesting detail about the cause of the white sands.

    I liked the pictures, but I prefer a sharper wide range focus on large landscapes.

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 3:44 pm

  109. Lee Furnival

    Wow, your pictures are great! I recently moved to Eastern Europe for work and have been having a hard time explaining to people here in words just how beautiful the deserts in America are. Your pictures of White Sands, NM are absolutely beautiful and I’ll refer my new friends here to your blog so they can see what I fail to describe… Thanks for the beautiful pictures, really amazing!

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 4:05 pm

  110. I know nothing of photography, but that first picture is beautiful.

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 4:46 pm

  111. Marvelous photos. Great compo, nice wnhite, beautiful texture. Congratulations and Regards.

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 5:01 pm

  112. Sarah Rahman (Essaar)

    Loved the photos.

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 5:22 pm

  113. I have skirted Whites Sands many times on my way westward. You have convinced me to stop and visit. Thanks for the beautiful photos.

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 5:28 pm

  114. Kat Farrell

    I love the colour tone in the horizon but I wonder if adding some light to the increase detail in the foreground plants would have enhanced the visual depth and overall power of the image???

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 6:24 pm

  115. These white sand pictures look like my grandmother’s comforter before she died in Barre, Vermont.

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 6:40 pm

  116. Beautiful…your use of and anticipation of light and shadows is gorgeous. Well done. I’m a photographer as well, but you sir are an artist. 🙂
    Dug
    http://thf2.wordpress.com

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 6:44 pm

  117. Nice shots dude

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 7:34 pm

  118. nice..

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 8:09 pm

  119. this is my first time to know gypsum..
    nice photos..

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 8:10 pm

  120. Beautiful photos of a stunning place. I was at White Sands when I was in my early 20s, several decades ago. It was gorgeous but the most remarkable thing to me was the total quiet…I’ve never been anywhere else where there was absolutely no sound. It was fascinating and a little frightening. I was with my parents and my mother kept talking, I think it made her very uncomfortable. My dad had been stationed there during WW2 so they had seen it all before and were back to remember the old days.

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 9:18 pm

  121. The first image is amazing! I want to go to there.

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 9:45 pm

  122. nice pictures, thanks for sharing.

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 10:42 pm

  123. Hi, those sand dunes pattern with the orizon in the back ground is amazing. The ryt light makes the photo even more perfect. There is another place called Allepey in Kerala, India, where you can take a snap all year around and still get the best shots.

    Like

    March 6, 2011 at 11:03 pm

  124. The textures in the sand are super-cool…almost other-worldly.

    Truly haunting images – thank you for sharing! very cool!

    Like

    March 7, 2011 at 1:26 am

  125. nice images… would love to be there..thanks for sharing the images..

    Like

    March 7, 2011 at 1:50 am

  126. vanimator

    Amazing and fantastic photos, the picture clarity and detailing of sand is extremely amazing.
    Thanks for the share.

    Vanimator
    http://www.vanimator.com

    Like

    March 7, 2011 at 1:51 am

  127. Your pictures are gorgeous.

    Like

    March 7, 2011 at 2:41 am

  128. Absolutely stunning…. superb!!

    Like

    March 7, 2011 at 3:08 am

  129. Your world is beautiful…

    Great pics are Byproduct of beautiful imagination…

    Thanks for sharing your world with us…

    Like

    March 7, 2011 at 7:56 am

  130. Isha The Jeweler

    These pictures are absolutely beautiful.

    Like

    March 7, 2011 at 8:48 am

    • Jim

      Thank you Isha!

      Like

      March 7, 2011 at 8:49 am

  131. Gorgeous ethereal light – congrats on being “Freshly Pressed” 😉

    Like

    March 7, 2011 at 9:07 am

  132. wow ! .. very nice photos ! . talented. I would love to take a trip there, very beautiful settings.

    http://www.mrcastano.wordpress.com

    Like

    March 7, 2011 at 9:18 am

  133. dhaami

    Stunning images! Love the depth and crispness. Would you mind sharing your exif settings for the first one?

    Like

    March 7, 2011 at 9:24 am

  134. Nice shot..White sand looks amazing..

    Like

    March 7, 2011 at 9:53 am

  135. Wow. Amazing photos. So glad to have found your blog! Thanks for sharing!

    Like

    March 7, 2011 at 10:26 am

  136. Wow! Love, Love, LOVE the pics!! Funny, I was just thinking of this place just the other day. I’ve never been, but would LOVE to go! This is only the 2nd time I’ve heard of it. The first time (and then my teenage daughter had to tell me where it was! lol) I’d heard of White Sands or saw shots of it was a 90’s video by Boys II Men…

    I wish Oprah or Ellen would do a shoot from here. Most folks outside the region don’t even know this gorgeous natural wonder even exists…

    This place should be the NINTH wonder of the world…(smile)

    Like

    March 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm

  137. Gorgeous Photographs!

    Like

    March 7, 2011 at 1:53 pm

  138. Pingback: White Sands « Fast Food Blogging

  139. beautiful photos, and thanks for the info about White Sands!

    Like

    March 7, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    • Jim

      Thank you. White Sands is a great place to visit and photograph!

      Like

      March 8, 2011 at 6:57 am

  140. cordik

    Beauty. Wanna visit this place.surely

    Like

    March 10, 2011 at 8:36 am

  141. really nice photo

    Like

    March 16, 2011 at 12:49 am

  142. serenely beautiful.

    Like

    March 21, 2011 at 3:57 am

    • Jim

      Thanks Jenny!

      Like

      March 21, 2011 at 6:20 am

  143. Beatifull white sand worked by the wind !

    Like

    August 5, 2014 at 5:32 am

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