White Sands Monument is a natural phenomenon in New Mexico where over the past 10,000 years white dunes have formed that appear to be sand but really are gyspsum. The salt is washed down from the nearby mountains into a lake where once the water evaporates, the salt is blown into the area by the winds. Over time, these shift just like sand and form large dunes that are white in color. But it is far from a barren desert and almost 60 different species of plants cling tenaciously to life in the dunes. It is a harsh environment, arid and with extremes of temperature but life carries on.