At first glance, you might assume this surreal arid landscape is from some distant land, but these gorgeous rolling dunes (and the stunning Milky Way vantage point) are all-American. In fact, the site, officially known as White Sands National Monument, is only a few hours from Albuquerque, New Mexico!

Its beauty is compelling, but it isn't the only reason you should plan a visit. In addition to its aesthetic value, White Sands is also a fascinating and exceedingly rare geological gem.

"Nested between the site of the first nuclear weapons test and the town of Alamogordo, White Sands is world's largest gypsum sand dune field," SKYGLOW photographer Harun Mehmedinovic writes. "On certain days, strong winds sweep through, moving and shifting the sands, resulting in sands storms such as the one depicted in this video."

The surreal short film, titled "Sandstorm Alamogordo," is just one installment of SKYGLOW, an ongoing visual series that explores the effects of light pollution by documenting the more extraordinary dark skies in North America. In past installments, Mehmedinovic has taken viewers on epic day-to-night journeys to places like Death Valley and the Great Smoky Mountains.

Milky Way over White Sands National Monument.
Milky Way over White Sands National Monument. (Photo: Harun Mehmedinovic)

Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.