The sand at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico looks as though you could make snowballs out of it.
It is as white and sparkling as a fresh snowfall. White Sands is the largest desert of its kind in the world. Its sand is made of fine grains of a mineral called gypsum, the same material from which the very white plaster of Paris is made.
The wind, blowing across the empty, open spaces of the desert, shapes the sand into hills, called dunes. Because almost no vegetation can grow here, there is nothing to hold the sands in place.
As a result, the dunes are constantly shifting and changing shape. They “walk” across the desert at the rate of 30 to 40 feet a year.
A few animals, such as pocket mice and lizards, have white coloring that makes them almost invisible against the startling white “snow.”