ICAR XI MidConference Field Trip

The ICAR XI MidConference Field Trip travels to White Sands National Park and The Jornada Experimental Range.  This field trip and all associated events during the day (e.g., lunch, snacks, and transport) are included in the full registration fee.

White Sands and the Jornada have a deep history in aeolian science and have facilitated seminal works for decades. White Sands hosts the world’s largest gypsum dune field; ~400 square kilometers of white, gypsum sand cover the central part of the Tularosa Basin 80 miles north of El Paso, Texas. The gypsum sand derives from deflation of Pleistocene lake deposits and input from modern playas. The gypsum sand is shaped into dunes by a multi-modal wind with a dominant mode from the southwest. Famous USGS geologist Eddie McKee conducted his seminal 1966 dune study at White Sands where he characterized the dune types and stratigraphy. Recent discoveries of Pleistocene mammal and human trackways make White Sands one of the most studied anthropological sites in North America. White Sands has gone on to become a natural laboratory to study dune morphodynamics and understanding the Pleistocene to Holocene climate transition in the southwest. See Ewing (2020) for a recent summary of the geology of the White Sands dune field.

The Jornada Experimental Range has been a desert ecosystem field research laboratory since 1912 that supports research on desert soils, vegetation, climate, meteorology, and landscape evolution. Loss of livestock, soil erosion, and loss of native plants led the US Department of Agriculture to establish the experimental range to determine the causes of these problems and determine sustainable remedies. The century of work at the range has resulted in seminal rangeland science, management practices, laws, and policy.  The Jornada has numerous established programs that support science and public engagement.


Field Trip presentation

Chapter on White Sands : Ewing, Ryan C. “White Sands.” Inland Dunes of North America (2020): 207-237

Field Trip Itinerary

07:30 – Depart

The ICAR XI field trip will take place on July 12, 2023. The entire congress will depart via tour buses from the Las Cruces Convention Center at 7:30 am for a 1.5 hr drive to White Sands National Park.

IMPORTANT: Please bring your passports, visas, and other documentation for your travel to the United States. We will go through an inland border control.

09:00 – White Sands National Park

Upon arrival at White Sands, we will park the buses at the group picnic site, which sits within the core of the dune field surrounded by barchan and barchanoid crescentic dunes that transition downwind over a few wavelengths into partially-vegetated barchan and parabolic dunes. After a 15 minute overview of the regional geology and White Sands Dune Field, constituents will be able to walk about the dunes. Bathrooms and a shaded picnic site are available onsite and water, gatorade, and light snacks will be provided by the conference. 

We will depart the dunes at 10:45 am and stop at the White Sands gift shop if time allows. We will leave White Sands by 11:15 am for the 1.5 hr drive to The Jornada Experimental Range.

12:45 – The Jornada Experimental Range

At the Jornada, lunch will be provided by the conference and bathrooms are available onsite. During lunch, a 15 minute overview of the Jornada will be provided. Constituents can explore the field site. We will host a special technical field instrumentation demonstration session at The Jornada. Four presentations will demonstrate state-of-the-art techniques for collecting field aeolian field data. 


We will leave Jornada at 3:45 pm and arrive back at the conference center by 5:30 pm. 



Weather will be EXTREMELY HOT. Expect temperatures ~38 C/ 100F. Please bring a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and wear protective clothing. We recommend comfortable and protective footwear – sneakers/tennis/running shoes will be fine. Sandals lack foot protection from sun and plants. Please bring water and the conference will provide water, gatorade, and snacks. Please bring what you need to be comfortable on this trip. Although we provide food, water, and bathrooms, you know yourself and what you need to remain comfortable for an all day field trip. We expect the schedule to slide given the expected size of the group (~200) and have built in some flexible time to ensure we arrive back at the conference center by 5:30 pm. 


Will food and water be provided?

Yes, but bring what you need to be comfortable. We will provide morning snacks and lunch along with 48 oz (1.5 L) of water and gatorade.

Will there be cellular service?

Yes, service should be available throughout the trip depending on your provider.

Will there be free wifi?

No free wifi will be available. Cellular service through your provider may be available. 

Will there be bathrooms?

Yes. The buses have bathrooms and facilities will be available at White Sands ( pit toilet) and at Jornada (flushable). 

Do I need a backpack?

You may want something to carry extra clothing, sunscreen, water, snacks, etc; but there is no required walking far from the buses. 


View west toward the San Andres Mountains across the dune field at White Sands National Park.

Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) boys working at bisect of a mesquite in a dune on the Jornada Experimental Range.  April 27, 1936.  (More historic photographs can be seen at https://jornada.nmsu.edu/jornada/photo-gallery) from https://jornada.nmsu.edu/jornada/history