White Sands moonlit hike to Alkali Flat

First Full Moon Hike of 2014!

Each month during the summer, White Sands has a "full moon night" where the park is kept open an extra hour or two. Perfect for some night time, moonlit hiking. The park closes at 10 pm.

Note: this is DIFFERENT than the National Park Service's "Full Moon Hike", which is much shorter (1 mi), and requires a reservation in advance.

Please bring (apart from the obvious, like water):

⚫ Any necessary paperwork for immigration (see note below)
⚫ Flashlight (for emergency purposes only; please don't use it and walk by moonlight instead)
⚫ A potassium-containing snack (i.e., banana or protein bar) — going up & down dunes is tiring, and we don't want to take too long.
⚫ Sweater/jacket — it may be chilly on the dunes.

If you have a GPS, please bring it, and load the GPS track linked below onto it. (The event host may or may not be tracking the hike).

People have gotten lost while driving to the Alkali Flat trail head, even while caravaning. The trail head is not particularly well marked, is difficult to give directions to (there aren't really any landmarks), and following each other never works out. Please check the map of Dunes Drive BEFORE you meet the group. If you're familiar with it you'll be better able to follow others.

If you are a guest of the United States (i.e. non-citizen), there is a US Customs & Border Patrol checkpoint demarcating passage to/from what the ACLU calls a "Constitution-Free Zone". If this bothers you, please donate to the ACLU and harass your congress critters; otherwise please bring appropriate documentation of your entry into the US (passports, visas, etc—you know better what you need than we do). Group hikes are not the place to make a stand for your civil liberties.

DISTANCE is ~5 mi loop.

ELEVATION GAIN is some 200 ft elevation lost, but effectively it is much more because of the up & down of the dunes

FEES: $3/person. If you have a Federal Lands Pass, please bring them; they are accepted here. If you carpool, please remember to compensate your driver.

HIKE DURATION: From 7:00 pm to whenever we get back (probably between 9:30-10 pm). (park closes at 10pm, so have to be done by then)

PET FRIENDLY? Yes. Pets must be on a leash or physically restrained at all times (park rules).

SKILL LEVEL is good for a first hike, but still somewhat challenging; the sand is loose and the hike is medium-length (5 mi). If you're a fast hiker, consider bringing weights to slow your pace down to the rest of the group.

TERRAIN is gypsum sand dunes. The recommendation is that you walk barefoot; otherwise, high-ankle boots/shoes with gaiters (to keep sand out of your shoes) also work great.

WEATHER High is 73, low is 47. Can be cool on dunes, especially if they are damp.

AFTERWARDS we'll go home. (Maybe if there is time, we can do some moonlight sledding).

MEET for carpool at:

⚫ Las Cruces: 5:45 pm, K-Mart parking lot on North Main/US 70 and Del Rey, near Shell. GPS: [masked]°N,[masked]°W (see on Google Maps, OpenStreetMap, USGS topo map)
⚫ El Paso: 5:15 pm, Walmart at Transmountain/US 54 at the west-most parking lot towards US 54. See map (Google Maps). Note: your host is not meeting here, please self-organize!
⚫ White Sands visitor center: 6:45 pm, front parking lot facing US 70. If you have a federal lands pass, consider carpooling from the visitor's center into the monument so people can save on admission fees. GPS: [masked]°N,[masked]°W (see on Google Maps, OpenStreetMap, USGS topo map)
⚫ White Sands Alkali Flat trailhead: 7:00 pm. Please meet at the Alkali Flat trailhead register. GPS: [masked]°N,[masked]°W (see on Google Maps, OpenStreetMap, USGS topo map)

If you are not planning on meeting the group at Kmart, please comment on where you will be meeting the group. We will try stick close to the time above, since the park closes at 10pm. Thanks and see you on the dunes!

MORE information:

White Sands National Monument's Website
GPS track

Join or login to comment.

  • jody M.

    Wonderful hike, awesome weather and great company!

    1 · May 17

  • Monica

    Great experience, I enjoyed the company, the moon, the bare feet hike.

    May 16

  • Raena

    Was a great time. We finished right on time. Next month we will have an extra hour to spend on the dunes as the park will close at 11 instead of 10. See you in June.

    2 · May 16

  • David

    Perfect weather, great company.

    2 · May 15

  • Sandra M.

    Wont to be able to go I feel very sick

    May 14

  • A former member
    A former member

    I am at the entrance of white sands... see you at the trail

    May 14

  • Juaísca R.

    Aww, Missing all you, guys!!! And this hike... I'm almost crying!! :) Enjoy it!

    4 · May 14

  • A former member
    A former member

    Enjoy the walk. Carrie and I have fond memories of this one last September.

    1 · May 13

    • Gus

      Your presence is still missed friend!

      May 14

  • Ghostavo A.

    Will meet up @ KMart in LC.

    May 14

  • A former member
    A former member

    I wont be making it. I have a friend visiting with a broken femur and she couldn't manage for obvious reasons... :) Next time.

    May 14

  • Raena

    If there are any questions or comments please call or text[masked] 1117. Please remember if you are not meeting the group at KMart in Las Cruces, please comment on where you are meeting the group. See you on Wed! Should be a beautiful night.

    2 · May 12

    • Deandra

      Will be meeting you all at the trail head

      May 13

    • A former member
      A former member

      I will meet you in the trail

      May 14

  • Debbie P.

    I planned to go, but it turns out this is my volunteer night at Books Revisited. Next full moon?

    May 14

  • Samat

    Coming from ABQ, will probably meet at the trail head. If others/myself are late, can we decide now which way we're going (clockwise or counterclockwise) so people can catch up?

    May 12

    • Raena

      Clockwise. But if you know you are going to be late please let me know, so we know not to wait.

      May 12

  • Samat

    Added some things to the event description. If you don’t know where the Alkali Flat trail head is, please look linked map to Dunes Drive so you don’t get lost (it’s difficult to give directions to, and even though we have people follow others, some still end up lost). I also added an carpool location in ELP (your host is not meeting there, so please self-organize carpool/etc and leave at the appropriate time yourselves). And, yet another reminder: if you need paperwork to get through the border patrol checkpoint, PLEASE BRING IT!

    2 · May 8

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