If you've never been to White Sands National Park, you gotta go. It is spectacularly photogenic. The first time I visited I spent the night in the dunes with my roommate at the time. I has such a great experience that when we planned a return trip, backcountry hiking was at the top of the list. There's not a trail, rather a route through the dunes to places to camp. There's no water in the backcountry, but that's not a big deal because it's a short hike out to the camp spots. We reserved a permit for a spot fairly far out in the dunes, so we could hike further out and watch the sunset. We waited until it cooled off a bit and headed out. It's pretty cool walking through this huge expanse and being the only people out there.
We found some interesting looking plants and pedestals along the way.
Once we had camp set up, we decided to wander further west into the dunes.
Eventually the sky exploded with color over the white gypsum dunes.
The moon was pretty bright out once the sun first set. We sat out in our camp chairs and enjoyed the breeze. Eventually the moon set, and the stars came out for us. We spent a little while looking for shooting stars before we hit the sack.
The following morning we were greeted to a beautiful sunrise. We ate breakfast and hiked back to the car.
Trip notes:I recommend camping out overnight in the backcountry because you basically get the park to yourself, get to watch the sunset, get deep into the untouched dunes, and then you get to be in the park at night. It’s a super beautiful place but the surrounding towns are starting to kill the dark night sky with all the light pollution.