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for people who care about the West

The wonder of White Sands

A photographer lovingly documents New Mexico’s desert national monument.


For years, photographer Craig Varjabedian has documented New Mexico’s White Sands National Monument and its waves of white gypsum sand. That work is collected in his new book, Into the Great White Sands. From shots of sunsets that set the sky ablaze to close-ups of fossilized animal tracks and hardy desert plants, each picture adds another piece to Varjabedian’s portrait of an extraordinary natural wonder.

Essays by poet Jeanetta Calhoun Mish and monument employees like former White Sands Superintendent Dennis Ditmanson trace the park’s history as a tourist attraction and its unique relationship with its neighbor, the White Sands Missile Range. Varjabedian describes his experiences as a photographer in the national monument, noting how “confluences of light, shadow (and) atmosphere” can lead to unexpected “magic.” Varjabedian likes visiting the White Sands to recharge between photography projects, and his pictures will help those who see them recharge as well.