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White Sands Balloon Festival (and Alkali Flats?)

  • Sep 19, 2015 · 5:00 AM
  • This location is shown only to members

For the last three years I have tried to see the balloons lift-off over the dunes at WS and for a variety of reason (including not launching from WS last year), I still have not been able to see this sight. Hope 4th try is the charm. The launch time is 7am. I plan on getting to the park when the gates open at 6 am in order to potentially beat the rush and see the teams set up the balloons before the launch. I would like to watch the balloons lift off and hopefully get to ride in one (I saw the pictures from a couple of years ago!).

Afterwards, as long as it is not too hot,  we can hike as much of the Alkali Flats trail as people want. 

Because of the crowd, it will be very difficult to meet at or anywhere near the park (we will not have reliable cell phone service from the balloon launch point), so if you wish to stay as a group please meet at 5 am at K-Mart. Also, please respect that we are getting up at 5 am and do not be late.

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

• Any necessary paperwork for immigration (there is a checkpoint!)

• A potassium-containing snack (i.e. banana) — going up & down dunes is tiring, and we don't want to take too long.

• Sweater/jacket — it may be chilly in the morning and on the dunes

• Camera!

DISTANCE is ~5 mi for the entire loop, but we can always decide just to do part and turn around. 

ELEVATION GAIN negligible.

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.

TRIP DURATION: Meet at 5 am. I am planning on getting back to Las Cruces in the early afternoon. 

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

SKILL LEVEL is intermediate. Hiking up the dunes can be tiring. 

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 TBD

AFTERWARDS Lunch? TBD

MEET for carpool at:

• Las Cruces: 5:00 am, 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: Please self-organize… use comments below.

MORE INFORMATION:

White Sands Balloon Invitation from the Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce

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  • Lulu

    Great pictures, how did you catch the sand lizard?

    September 20, 2015

    • Josephine

      we can not take credit for the catch. Other people hiking captured the criter and shared hi

      September 20, 2015

  • A former member
    A former member

    No Balloons today !!!

    September 19, 2015

    • Raena

      But still a great hike! clouds all around and lightning in the distance.

      September 19, 2015

  • george

    Even though we didn't get to see the hot balloons, we had an amazing time and hope we can see each other again!

    1 · September 19, 2015

  • Josephine

    Awesome hike although disappointed Balloons did not go up nonetheless great way to start the day. Thanks Raena for organizing it.

    1 · September 19, 2015

  • Raena

    Another year gone, and another year I did not get to see the balloons lift off! Still had a beautiful hike across the white sands. 8 people completed the hike in 2 hours and 30 minutes.

    September 19, 2015

  • Pauline M.

    It is really crowded. Have to drive past entry and approach going south

    September 19, 2015

  • Pauline M.

    I am getting ride with guests. We are only doing the launch. I think I can not do the up and down part of hike wearing the sling. Cu there

    September 18, 2015

  • Raena

    Any last minute questions/comments please call or text (preferred):[masked]

    September 18, 2015

  • Valentina

    Hi Raena! I know I can't make the 5mile hike but would really like to come. Perhaps if there is a group that is willing to maybe do half that much we could all organize beforehand so no one is left wandering around alone in the trail, get lost, etc?

    September 14, 2015

    • Raena

      Where we park depends on where they will launch the balloons from. Two years ago when I tried to go there was a line of cars 3 miles long parked on the side of HWY 70 until they opened the gates. If I remember we ended up parking in the lot of the backcountry camping. I have no idea where we will be parking this year.

      September 18, 2015

    • Raena

      They were directing traffic last year, so we will just have to wait and see where they direct us to.

      September 18, 2015

  • A former member
    A former member

    I will be there, but will be with another Meetup group. I have to be back by 9:30, so will come back right after the launch pretty much. If anyone wants a ride, text / call / email me today. [masked]-4125. jackie.e.barnett at gmail.com. I am going leave LC by 5 am. I can meet anyone at the Kmart.

    September 18, 2015

  • Pauline M.

    Going to try and make it

    August 31, 2015

18 went

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