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
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.
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.
• White Sands Balloon Invitation from the Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce