When we were planning this trip, something that worried me was that we wouldn’t have much flexibility since we were so scheduled (this has to be done in the summer as everyone else is also traveling)! We had a happy, fortuitous circumstance after we left Carlsbad that eased my mind a bit.
On our way to White Sands Monument, we had to pass through the Lincoln National Forest where we stopped for a picnic lunch. As soon as we stepped out of the car, we were in heaven as it was in the low 80’s and there were trees everywhere (it is in the Sacramento Mountains). We even commented that we should ditch our campsite reservations and find a place to stay there. However, we headed down the mountain to our campsite near White Sands. The further down into the valley we went, the hotter it got until we arrived at our campsite where the temperature was 108 degrees and not a shade tree in sight. We briefly played with the idea of making it work but pretty quickly decided to head back up into the mountains. It was the right decision in every way as we found a beautiful, wooded campsite where it was blessedly cool and where Harris could make a fire! That night, we slept with windows open and even had to pull up the down comforter to get warm in the morning!
We awoke early the next morning in order to make it to White Sands Monument before it became unbearably hot. White Sands is unique as it is entirely a rare gypsum sand! 10,000 years ago, when the ancient lake dried up, there was no outlet for the sand to drain away to the ocean! The sand looks and acts just like snow; drifting, blowing and moving. We took sleds and spent the morning sledding down the dunes! It was tremendous fun!
Afterwards, we came home, packed a lunch and headed out to find a waterfall that the campground host told us about! This was so fun! Everyone got in the freezing cold (seriously cold!) spring water! There were lots of laughs and screams!
We spent the rest of the day taking it easy near our campsite, while Harris built a fire for our dutch oven dinner and s’mores. At the end of the day Harris said that this was his favorite day so far! Cloudcroft was indeed good to us.