How to Enjoy a Cold Sunrise at White Sands

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

November 18, 2016


I’m from Texas; I grew up in humid Houston air and have grown accustomed to winters that barely dip below 60. Needless to say I was unprepared for thirty degree weather that greeted me each morning in New Mexico.




First of all, if you are ever planning a trip to New Mexico, you must visit the White Sands. My friends & I woke at 4 a.m. to drive to the sands and see the sun rise and it was so worth it.

TIP #1: Arrive early! We came right when it opened, so there were hardly any other people there, very few tracks in the sand, and the park ranger even let us in for free.




I thought I was prepared for the cold weather, but because I rarely experience it in Texas, I forgot a hat, gloves, and wore very thin leggings that weren’t so good at blocking the wind chill.

TIP #2: Bring gloves! My friends & I were all dressed in leggings, scarves, sweatshirts, beanies and even blankets, but we all felt much colder due to our lack of gloves. Taking photos was difficult because my hands would freeze up to the point that you I couldn’t even feel them. So bring gloves, especially if you’ll be there for awhile.




As the sun rose, the sands were absolutely mesmerizing. With the blue against the pale white with the mountains in the distance, if it wasn’t so cold I could have stayed forever.




Before arriving, my friends & I were looking at Instagram photos at the White Sands, and laughed at a user who posted a picture of the shrubs at the sands. But in reality, the plants provided a great accent to the rest of the landscape.




TIP #3: Utilize the light for your photos. If you want silhouettes, take the photo toward the light, and if you want the subject of the photo to be the focus, then make sure the light is coming from behind the camera. It actually makes a big difference what angle your photos come from, so be mindful!




TIP #4: For photos, bring a tripod or a camera with a timer if you have one. We were able to stack our backpacks to simulate a tripod and take a photo of the five of us due to the fact that I have a mirrorless camera with a timer. So if you don’t have an actual tripod, a makeshift one can work as well.




TIP #5: Take photos from a distance. With such a beautiful landscape, to really capture its essence I found that photos from behind turned out much better than the close-ups.

So if you’re thinking of planning a road trip, definitely consider New Mexico and the beautiful white sands as a destination. In the winter, bring some warm clothing and go early for beautiful photos against the sun rise!



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