The White Sands National Monument & Missile Range

Wednesday, 12th April 2006 by

This is the utterly bizarre, and totally incredible White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, USA. The monument is the southernmost part of a 710 square kilometre (275-square mile) field of startlingly white sand dunes, which are composed of gypsum crystals which are water soluble, but as there's no sea outlet, all the dissolved gypsum from the surrounding mountains collects here instead.

You can picnic, sandboard, and take guided orientation and nature walks here, however I'm pretty sure the guides won't let you wander too far, as the monument is within the White Sands Missile Range. They actually close the monument to the public roughly twice a week to conduct tests! The most famous weapon tested at this range was the first ever detonation of an atomic bomb on July 16, 1945 - the infamous Trinity Test.

The brand-newly launched Yahoo Maps Beta has some stunning high-res images of the test site (and some very nifty features too). Compare the Google image with the Yahoo one:

We look forward to receiving a deluge of Yahoo Maps submissions!

Thanks to Allen Ormond, Shital Shah, Richard, Tim Gregory, Int13, Tyler, Richard Rowley, Kyle, Jeff, Mike, Earl, Alan, Steve Ransom, Rob Marshall, Bruno, Matt Musselman, Mr. Putty, an MP, woowoowoo, Percel and Matt