White Sands Becomes National Park, Improves Facilities

By Glen Rosales, Albuquerque Journal

National Park Service

December 19, 2019 – Changes are afoot at White Sands National Park.

Or perhaps a-feet might be a bit more accurate.

One of the unknown facets of the great gypsum basin near Alamogordo is it is home to a series of ancient animal tracks

“These are from Pleistocene (Epoch) or the late ice age,” said Marie Sauter, park superintendent. “These are large mammals like the large American cat, dire wolf, woolly mammoth, giant ground sloth. These animals are supersized. These animals are large.”

It’s an incredible collection, she said.

“We’ve discovered thousands upon thousands of footprints left in the prehistoric mud and have been preserved for thousands of years,” Sauter said.

Unfortunately, visitors are unable to see them because the entire area is within a restricted part of the 147,000-acre park because of its proximity to Holloman Air Force.

Park officials are planning to create a new boardwalk display that will include cast depictions of some of the tracks and the story behind them.

This is one of the many projects slated at White Sands.

The work is largely being paid for through a federally mandated bump in entrance fees at all national parks.