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A dune is a nature mound of sand formed by the wind, usually along the beach or in a desert or dead tree. Dunes sand form when wind blows sand into a sheltered area behind an obstacle. Dunes grow as grains of sand accumulate. Every dune has a windward side and a slipface. A dunes windward side is the side where the wind is blowing and pushing material up. A dunes slip face is simply the side without wind. A slipface is usually smoother than a dunes windward side.

Once it’s in motion, sand will continue to move until an obstacle causes it to stop. The heaviest grains settle against the obstacle, and a small ridge or bump forms. Because the obstacle breaks the force of the wind, the lighter grains deposit themselves on the other side of the obstacle. Eventually, the desert, the surface facing the wind crests, sunny and the lighter grains of sand cascade down the other side, or the slip face. This is how a sand dune may actually move over time it rolls along, maintaining its shape as it goes.

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How and why does a sand dune crest? As the hot wind moves sand up to the top of the sandpile, the pile becomes so steep it begins to collapse under its own weight, and the sand avalanches down the slip face. The pile stops collapsing when the slip face reaches the right angle of steepness for the dune to remain stable. This angle, which scientists call the angle of repose, sand dune live wallpaper is usually about 30 to 34 degrees.

A land of incredible natural diversity, the landscape of New Mexico ranges from towering forested peaks to high plains; vast, ancient lava fields; and wide desert spaces. One of the most spectacular wonders in this state filled with so many exceptional natural views is white sands national park. Part of the world’s largest gypsum dune field, White Sands National Monument is breathtaking to behold, and is easily one of New Mexico’s most photogenic areas, drawing landscape and nature photographers from around the world.

White Sands National Monument does not have a developed campground, but there are 10 primitive backcountry campsites available on a first come first serve basis for backpackers. These backcountry campsites are especially popular with photographers, since camping in the park enables photographers to wake up early before the park gates open to capture the beautiful sunrise over the dunes. While the park is typically open until shortly after sunset, camping at one of these backcountry sites allows for a more leisurely sunset photography session without needing to worry about exiting the park by a designated time.

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