Photograph by Navid Baraty
White Sands is America’s newest national park, having been redesignated from national monument status in December, but you’ll probably feel as if you’ve seen this brilliant southern New Mexico landscape before. There’s a reason for that: The 275-square-mile gypsum dunefield (the largest of its kind in the world) that contains the park has appeared in more than 20 films, including the 1968 Clint Eastwood Western Hang ’Em High and the 2007 blockbuster Transformers.
Filmmakers aren’t the only lensmen to shoot here. Photographer Navid Baraty, who snapped this image, was also drawn by the uncanny scenery. “White Sands is without a doubt the most surreal landscape I’ve ever seen,” Baraty says. “I photographed the white dunes at different times of day and was struck by how their look changes so drastically in variations of light.”
The park’s soft, snow-white sand also draws intrepid hikers, equestrians, and, ironically, sledders, as seen here. Don’t worry if you didn’t think to pack a sled to visit the desert: They’re available at the visitor center gift shop.