White Sands, New Mexico

Entrance of the park

Oh this place could be as fun as you want to make it. From Sandboarding, hiking, picnics and even camping.

Believe it or not, the “sand” is actually gypsum crystals, not sand, and they never get hot! NEVER You could walk in it all day long if you wanted and never burn your feet.

Whether you choose to drive through the dunes of actually hike you’ll be able to contemplate 360 beautiful landscape views. Clear your mind as you enter this place andnenjoy the ride.

We arrived as early as we could. Due to COVID-19 restrictions (May 2019) we could not camp the night before our visit. The white sands are a hot spot and I wanted to avoid crowds as much as possible. Not to mention New Mexico’s heat can be extreme. I visited during spring and gosh it was sunny enough to need sunscreen and lip balm. Seriously. My lips got so dry after this roatrip (my favorite one is locally made in the US). However, If you visit during winter there might be snow!!

If you want to camp or get in the park for sunrise/sunset you will need to request for a permit called Early entry – Stay late. I highly suggest checking for availability on their website at the link above. I truly hope you get to experience it.

As I drove to the end I contemplated the road vanishing within the crystals, it game me a feeling of infinite, and once I turned the loop I found a cool picnic area with some shaped benches. There are plenty benches with shade for guests and you can park next to the one you choose. I didn’t know about this so I did not plan for a picnic day. All I got was snacks haha.

Picnic area

What to wear to the White Sands?

So, I have to saaaay this is hands down a place to take a cool aesthetic photo shoot for your Instagram or maybe even wedding pictures. I went with a black dress as the surroundings are white. It was so fun to take the shots and it’s looks so dreamy. So I brought different outfits.

As I’ve mention before heat in New Mexico can be extreme and the White Sands has no shade at all. It will get hot, trust me. On the bright side if you love feeling the sand in your skin you can go barefoot in your shootings. Bring sunglasses that go with your outfits or be prepare to

If you are more the hiking type, well, different outfits are required, not a dress definitely.. Remember hiking in sand is a slow hike.. you’ll be under the sun for as long as you want but at least 30 min for sure. I walked around barefoot through my whole hike.. it was not long and I had my shoulders covered, my legs were exposed but damn, I loved it. You’ll sweat quickly here, just apply lots of sunscreen to avoid any skin damage. Keep the sweating in mind, I don’t think leggings will feel great hear unless you come in the park after 6 PM.

If you stay the night… it will be cold. so make sure you have enough blankets and a good warm pj.

Unfortunately I was NOT allowed to fly my drone, not even with a permit; as the White Sands are surrounded by an active missile range, because of this you can come across “strange objects” do not touch them! and let the ranger know on your way out.

Idk about you but I love travel stamps and at the visitor’s center you can get a stamp in your passport!

Also you can buy sand boards behind the visitor’s center for $10 (they are not amazing quality, it’s plastic, so think about this before you buy it. Keep the park clean and don’t buy things you don’t need. Some people give them away after they use them to other visitors)

Can you believe this is the largest gypsum dune in the world! yep, that’s right. I am so happy I crossed out this one from the US bucket list. It is definitely a place to visit once in your lifetime.

One week road tripping through NM was not enough, there is tons of places I missed and I can’t wait for destiny to send me back to the land of enchantment.

The coolest Airbnb in Madrid, NM

After a long time with all this craziness happening with COVID-19 I was finally able to travel somewhere and the destination this time is New Mexico, USA. If you are a sucker for unique places and stunning views, like me, you’ll love this place I’m about to share with you all.

I was so happy to go on the road to a whole new State I’ve never been to. At the last stop in Albuquerque, I unfortunately did not find a remarkable place to stay and the ones I really wanted to stay were fully booked. However, after some deep looking through Airbnb we found this gem at the edge of a mountain range and let me say, wooow! This place was amazing…and for only $60 we were set for the night!

If you’ve never been to New Mexico before you’ll quickly learn how underrated this state is. Stunning views await around every corner and Shanti Community sits at the top among some of, if not the, best spots to stay in NM. Located right on the edge of the mountains, overlooking a valley into the west with the perfect scene for sunset gazers. It’s owners are Shelly and her partner Bri (what a coincidence, right?) , an off grid artist and yoga teacher made this amazing creative place a reality where you can go stargazing, hiking, listening to music played at the community or just relaxing in a peaceful environment. The views behind this community are from the Placer Mountain and the closest town is Madrid.

Shanti Community is an experience, more than just a place you find on Airbnb, well worth staying at. The most important thing to know about it is that this is a sustainable community, everything works with solar panels, compostable toilets, primitive kitchen and restored automobiles and yurts. This in mind, be prepared for a truly outdoors submersion if you choose to check this spot out.

In these 10 acres you’ll find different options to stay: from a yurt to the coolest school busses I’ve ever seen. However, I will only share pictures of Kerouac VW as this is the one I chose to stay in but don’t worry I will share links to the other ones you can stay at.

As the darkness arrived all we did was set out seats and dinner ready to enjoy the show we were about to watch. Kerouac has a deck facing straight into the horizon where the sun sets. The view is simply too beautiful not to contemplate. While the sun sat and we enjoyed our food, we could hear music coming from the other side of the camp. That was unexpected to us but very beautiful to hear, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced live music while sunsetting. When I say music I don’t mean someone playing a guitar with a band or a CD playing. It was drums and a flute I believe.. I didn’t get close enough to know who was playing or what exact instrument was used but I bet it was Shelly.

Now, let’s talk stars! STARGAZING was hands down my favorite thing to do out here. I fell asleep all cozy looking at the stars from my window at Kerouac VW. As you can see at the deck you can just set a pair of chairs and enjoy the stars. Isn’t that lovely?

This photo was taken with my iPhone, forgive my bad quality but I hope this shows you how beautiful is up there.

Hiking trails.. You can walk around as much as you want as long as you don’t get in any private property. In the community there are trails you can follow marked with rocks. There is no lights at night, keep this in mind if you decide to wander around.

The bed in the VW is more comfortable than tent camping but not as comfortable as a regular bed. It is well sealed but still i suggest to bring some blankets with you. If you have none don’t worry they have some available at the community for $10. Another awesome thing is that they are pet friendly! Just be mindful and pick up after your dog.

Inside you will find tons of colorful stickers giving you all the peace and love vibe. The roof has some sort rainbow of strings all over. Two solar candles and a solar lamp are in the front of the VW. Outside there is a hammock you can unfold to enjoy sunsets and sunrises. One ice chest is available for you but you need to bring your own ice.

Note: In order to get all the way up to Shanti community from the main road you’ll need a car with clearance/4×4. I am not saying your car won’t make it but only you know what your car is capable of. You will need to drive 2 miles of rocky dirt, possibly mud if it rained. I highly recommend you not to stay here if your car is very very short. The drive is about 20-25 min and you’ll be riding very slowly.

Here’s the list of places they have available:

I truly hope you book at least a night here whenever you travel to this area. I promise you its well worth it. You can see all the love put in this community and don’t make me start on the sustainability. We need more getaways like this that respect out planet. If you stay please follow their recycle rules and don’t litter. You’ll enjoy stunning 360 degree views you can’t easily find on Airbnb. Let’s keep it beautiful forever. If you need some inspiration to swap to zero waste options for you travels check my other post Top Zero Waste essentials for travelers.

Mind blowing places in New Mexico

Thinking about traveling to this beautiful state? I got you. New Mexico is such an underrated state, people just don’t know what they are missing. In this post I will share with you one of the of the most worthy places to visit at least once in your lifetime. And trust me your pictures will also look stunning.

New Mexico is known as “The Land of Enchantment,” and I must say, it lives up to the claim.

Don’t forget your camera!

1. Bisti/De – Na – Zin Wilderness

If you are up for some amazing nature phenomena this is the best place to visit in NM. It’s uniqueness will make you feel out of this world.

2. Lincoln National Forest

NM is not just desert.

3. White Sands

Such a lovely place to walk around and have some fun sand boarding. Needless to say it’s perfect for photo shoots.

4. Tsé Bit ‘A’í

Or shiprock, probably is the most iconic place to no visit in NM.

Would you add any other place to the list? Let me know in the comments.