Do not ignore the basecamp

I have been fortunate enough to travel to some of the national parks and monuments in the United States and witness Nature at its best. White Sands National Monument was one such place (more on that probably in a later post) where my wife and I went in the summer of 2017. We stayed in a town called Las Cruces which is about an hour drive from White Sands.

When you have the target to visit one particular place and if it is a protected area with no lodging options (except for some limited form of camping), you are forced to stay elsewhere. While all your time is spent at the intended destination, the base-camp becomes merely a place to rest your tired bodies at the end of the day or take a quick shower to freshen up before next day’s exploration (which is again not where you are holed up!).

However, more often than not, I have regretted not spending much time at the place of lodging. In this particular trip, we stayed at a beautiful farmhouse in Las Cruces with a great view of the Organ mountains. We had extraordinary star sightings and the best sunrise views right at our doorstep. We did not plan on this but to witness it was a happy accident as the White Sands are open after sunrise and closes at dusk (unless you have a permit). The green fields with the mountains as backdrop also provide good photographic opportunities (that is stark opposite of the vast barrenness of the White Sands). Another advantage is you can escape the crowd of the White Sands which can be annoying (especially during sunset) if you are a quiet person and prefer solitude and calm for making images.

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Sunrise over the Organ Mountains

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Golden light at doorstep

While iconic locations are popular for obvious reasons and there is no harm in seeking them out, it can be highly rewarding to make time for exploring the places around it, the area where you are residing at and maybe, you will come back with better images and stories to share.

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