White Sand National Monument is an incredible site. The waves of silky-white sand cover 275 square miles of New Mexico desert, comprising the largest gypsum dunefield in the world. It is a magical land that is also home to a surprising amount of biodiversity.
But amongst the flora and fauna, some hikers catch a fleeting glimpse of an apparition... but for those that catch a good view, they soon realize this is no hallucination…. It’s the ghost of the Great White Sands… The ghost, named Pavla Blanca.
In 1540, a young, brave Spanish man by the name of Hernando de Luna valiantly signed on to join the famed conquistador Francisco Coronado. The young Spaniard was eager to prove himself a hero but was forced to leave behind his beautiful bride to be, Manuela, in Mexico City.
The party set to explore large swaths of unknown lands in what would become Arizona, Kansas, Texas and New Mexico, intent on finding the legendary Seven Cities of Gold. The fabled Seven Cities of Gold, or Cibola, were said to be home to immense golden houses filled with jewels.
For many days and many nights the party scoured the southwest desert, tediously following golden sunsets and bejeweled night skies in search of a mirage. One day, while following a tip from a Native American, they came to the edge of the great white sands.
It was here that their quest came to sudden a end. The party of conquistadors was ambushed by Apache warriors. Many perished and few survived. Those that managed to escape, bloodied and defeated, fled south to Mexico City to tell tales of the epic battle.
Upon their arrival, the beautiful bride-to-be Manuela anxiously awaited her love. But as the scattered men slowly entered, Manuela was told that Hernando had perished on the shifting dunes of the great white sands.
With great haste, she headed North in search of her true love, she was last seen somewhere just north of El Paso.
According to legend the Spanish maiden now haunts the Great White Sands. She appears in the evening in a flowing milky white wedding gown combing the shimmering dunes in pursuit of her husband-to-be.
Many skeptics contend that Pavla Blanca sightings are simply swirly eddies of white sand, others who have laid eyes on the beautiful mistress will swear it’s the soul of grief-stricken woman forever wandering through the lingering torture of searching for her lover.
Today you can search for Pavla Blanca in the White Sands National Monument while exploring trails and camping amongst the storied dunes.