A Place To Rest - EKO Stop 8

Rio Grande Cottonwood is out in the Gypsum sand during a cloudy but slightly orange sunset
Rio Grande Cottonwood is out in the Gypsum sand with exposed roots.

NPS Photo

The Rio Grande cottonwood tree survives in White Sands National Park due to some adaptations it already had to survive in the surrounding desert. The stems that attach the leaves to the tree are flat instead of round. This helps the leaves twist in the wind allowing them to not be blown off the tree in the high-speed winds that often happen here. The roots run deep into the ground and hold the trees in place, so they don’t lose their grip during windstorms. During the fall, the green leaves of the cottonwood will start to turn yellow to orange in color.
Migratory birds will use the groves of cottonwoods as resting points. The trees give them a place to stop and rest during their long journey.

White Sands National Park

Last updated: April 9, 2022