Everyone with children was renting saucers to slide down the dunes. I overheard the instructions: find a steep dune, lean back and keep your feet up. Even the adults that were coordinated enough to follow the instructions did not build up much speed; the sand was too soft and fine. The children, on the other hand, slide rapidly…laughing at their parents all the way. It was thirsty work. The gallon jugs of water that families lugged from the concession were needed.
The sand itself is so reflective that it does not get hot like the tan colored sand. We all pulled off our shoes and walked up a sloping dune face after our picnic lunch. It was noticeably cooler in the shade of the pavilion - comfortable with the little breeze. The reflectivity made the air above the sand feel very hot indeed and we all were prompted to lather up with sunscreen.
The air was dry and even the green plants seemed brittle from desiccation. The main evidence we saw of animals were their tracks in the sand.
The highpoint of the trip for me were the nests of barn swallows in the eaves of the visitor center. The little birds senses when their parents were coming and open up wide in anticipating. Enjoy the slide show tour of White Sands National Monument below!