Each month during the summer, White Sands has a "full moon night", during which the park is kept open for a few extra hours. Closing at 11 pm, it's perfect for some night time, moonlit hiking.
Before hiking, we'll have a potluck social for an hour. As we rather focus on socializing and hiking rather than cooking, we are not bringing charcoal or a grill—please bring something to the potluck that tastes good cold! When you RSVP, list what you are bringing. We plan to park near the Alkali Flat trail head, setting up the potluck on one of the surrounding dunes.
Alcohol is allowed, though the park strongly urges you to be responsible about glass. Feel free to bring a bottle of wine or beer to share.
Note: this is DIFFERENT than the National Park Service's "Full Moon Hike" (http://www.nps.gov/whsa/planyourvisit/full-moon-hikes.htm), 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, you can download 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. It is difficult to give directions (there are no landmarks) and the trail head is not well marked. Please check the map of Dunes Drive (http://www.nps.gov/whsa/planyourvisit/upload/Dunes_Drive_with_blackband_web_version_2_3_2014.pdf) 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" (http://www.aclu.org/national-security_technology-and-liberty/are-you-living-constitution-free-zone). If this bothers you, please donate to the ACLU (https://www.aclu.org/donate/join-renew-give) and harass your congress critters (http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml); 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: 2–3 hours.
PET FRIENDLY? Yes. Please bring a muzzle, just in case. Pets otherwise 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. We recommend you walk barefoot; otherwise, high-ankle boots/shoes with gaiters (to keep sand out of your shoes) also work great.
WEATHER is partly cloudy, temperature in the 70s. Check the forecast at the NWS. (http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lon=-106.273515&lat=32.820625) It can be surprisngly 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: 4:30 pm, K-Mart parking lot on North Main/US 70 and Del Rey, near Shell. GPS:[masked]°N,[masked]°W (https://www.meetup.com/las-cruces-hiking/events/120102702/geo:32.35083,-106.76538) (see on Google Maps (http://maps.google.com/?q=32.35083,-106.76538&z=18), OpenStreetMap (http://www.openstreetmap.org/?mlat=32.35083&mlon=-106.76538&zoom=18), USGS topo map (http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=32.35083,-106.76538&marker0=32.35083,-106.76538&z=18))
⚫ El Paso: 4:00 pm, Walmart at Transmountain/US 54 at the west-most parking lot towards US 54. See map (Google Maps (http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=31.897292,+-106.439618&aq=&sll=31.897353,-106.435947&sspn=0.001806,0.001269&ie=UTF8&t=h&z=16)). Note: your host is not meeting here, please self-organize!
⚫ White Sands visitor center: 5:30 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 (https://www.meetup.com/las-cruces-hiking/events/120102702/geo:32.77935,-106.17218) (see on Google Maps (http://maps.google.com/?q=32.77935,-106.17218&z=18), OpenStreetMap (http://www.openstreetmap.org/?mlat=32.77935&mlon=-106.17218&zoom=18), USGS topo map (http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=32.77935,-106.17218&marker0=32.77935,-106.17218&z=18))
⚫ White Sands Alkali Flat trailhead: 5:45 pm, at the trailhead register. GPS:[masked]°N,[masked]°W (https://www.meetup.com/las-cruces-hiking/events/120102702/geo:32.820625,-106.273515) (see on Google Maps (http://maps.google.com/?q=32.820625,-106.273515&z=18), OpenStreetMap (http://www.openstreetmap.org/?mlat=32.820625&mlon=-106.273515&zoom=18), USGS topo map (http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=32.820625,-106.273515&marker0=32.820625,-106.273515&z=18)). Please DON'T meet here unless you know where it is!
Please leave a comment whether you are meeting the group in Las Cruces, El Paso, or elsewhere.
⚫ White Sands National Monument's Website (http://www.nps.gov/whsa/)
⚫ GPS track (http://www.gpsies.com/map.do?fileId=stufjjeefthtmihc)