New Mexico: Land of Enchantment
With New Mexico, we are visiting the fifth largest state in the United States in terms of area. It is however home to only a little more than 2 million inhabitants. This low population density becomes more and more noticeable as we head south through desert landscapes. On our way, we make a stop in Santa Fe, a colorful cultural and artistic city. Not far from the Mexican border, we then visit the White Sands National Park, the largest gypsum desert in the world.
The mountain village Cloudcroft
On the west side, we finally see the mountains where our next accommodation is located. Before heading there, we make a quick stop in the valley to go to the supermarket. As we get out of the car, we are surprised by the heat – the thermometer reads more than 40°C. This short stop is enough to melt the plastic cup left in the car. We are more than happy to spend the next few days in Cloudcroft, at an altitude of over 2600 meters, with lower temperatures.
We are however not really happy when all warning lights on the car’s dashboard start to blink only a few meters away from the Cloudcroft. The motor smells terrible and our Toyota stops. We are forced to stop on the side of the road. After many unsuccessful calls with the rental agency and roadside assistance, our hosts are very kind and save us from our interminable wait. They pick us up along with all our belongings and drive us to our accommodation.
With a few cafés and restaurants, the small village of Cloudcroft is very nice. We even find a good brewery, in a classic North American style, with a bar and a restaurant. We are surprised to learn that the area is also populated by black bears. In the evening, they like to come to the village in search of garbage and leftovers. Caution is advised, but we didn’t have the opportunity to meet any during our stay. Hiking and walking in the surrounding forest are currently prohibited: the risk of forest fires is at an extreme level, like everywhere else in the state of New Mexico.
Cloudcroft Brewing Co.
Forest & mountains
White Sands National Park
The highlight of our stay in New Mexico is without a doubt White Sands National Park. The world’s largest gypsum dunefield with beautiful white sand. It covers an area about the size of the canton of Jura or, for our readers who do not know the canton of Jura, about 100’000 soccer fields.
We went to the park early in the morning and took advantage of the still pleasant temperatures to go for a walk on the dunes. At the entrance of the park, the dunes are still relatively low and covered with vegetation. As we drive forward, the landscape changes little by little: the vegetation make place to white sand and the dunes get higher. The last section of the road that leads us to the trailhead is entirely covered with white sand.
To our surprise, the parking lot where our hike starts is almost empty. We happen to be alone on this huge stretch of sand and enjoy having the trail all to ourselves. Unlike Great Sand Dunes National Park we visited Park in Colorado, the dunes at White Sands are lower, the walk is really pleasant and less strenuous