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White Sands potluck, Harvest Moon, Lunar Eclipse & Hike to Alkali Flat- Oh my!

  • Sep 27, 2015 · 4:00 PM
  • This location is shown only to members

The times listed below are departure times! Please arrive 5-10 early to check-in and organize carpools. Thanks!

This will be a special event since there will be a harvest moon and a lunar eclipse happening on the night of Sept 27th.  The full eclipse should last around 72 mins and the total event taking about 3 hours. The eclipse will start around 7:00 pm (MT) and last until almost 10:00. 

Mountain Daylight Time (September 27, 2015)
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 7:07 p.m. MDT on September 27
Total eclipse begins: 8:11 p.m. MDT
Greatest eclipse: 8:47 p.m. MDT
Total eclipse ends: 9:23 p.m. MDT
Partial eclipse ends: 10:27 p.m. MDT


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

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.

Before hiking, we'll have a potluck social for about 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.

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)- This is important for this night as there may be limited moonlight because of the eclipse. 
⚫ 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. 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 6:45 pm to whenever we get back (probably between 9:30-9:45 pm). (park closes at 10 pm, so have to be done by then)

PET FRIENDLY? Yes. Please bring a muzzle, just in case. Pets must be on a leash or physically restrained at all times (park rules).

SKILL LEVEL is intermediate, and somewhat challenging; the sand is loose, the hike is medium-length (5 mi), and we have a time limit for the hike. 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. Please bring a pair of sandals or shoes with you in case the sand gets rough.

WEATHER is TBA. Check the NWS forecast for the trailhead. It can be surprisingly cool on dunes, especially if they are damp.

AFTERWARDS we'll go home. 

MEET for carpool at:

⚫ Las Cruces: 4:00 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: 3:15 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: 5:00 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: 5:30 pm, at the trailhead register. GPS: [masked]°N,[masked]°W (see on Google Maps, OpenStreetMap, USGS topo map). Please DON'T meet here unless you know where it is!

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. Thanks and see you on the dunes!

MORE information:

White Sands National Monument's Website
GPS track

Join or login to comment.

  • Raena

    Great potluck and socializing with many people. Over 50 hikers completed the trail in 2 hours 45 mins. Was such a unique experience, but definitely lacking in moon light for most of hike. The eclipse was amazing. Can't wait for the next one. Please share any pictures you would like.

    2 · September 28, 2015

  • A former member
    A former member

    I'll meet at k mart I got room for 2 more

    September 25, 2015

    • A former member
      A former member

      can Liz and I get a ride with you possibly?

      September 26, 2015

    • A former member
      A former member

      Totally could have, next time text me[masked]!

      September 28, 2015

  • fred

    This was a lot of fun. A few of the hikers were overly inclined to stray ahead of the pack

    September 28, 2015

  • Raena

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

    September 27, 2015

    • A former member
      A former member

      Forgot my dog leashes had to turn around and get them. Hopefully I'll still be on time at the visitor center

      September 27, 2015

  • Clara C.

    Meet you at the visitor center !

    September 27, 2015

  • Karen E.

    I will meet you at the trail head. Bringing my dog Samson.

    1 · September 27, 2015

  • A former member
    A former member

    My husband and I will meet you at the trailhead at 5:30.

    September 27, 2015

  • A former member
    A former member

    Bringing pasta salad and brownies. May have up to four friends join us, but all have been instructed to bring food and where to meet. I'm also bringing a small folding table and three chairs.

    September 27, 2015

  • Yared

    Will be at the trail head at 6 pm.

    September 27, 2015

  • A former member
    A former member

    Since I'm up here in Alamo, I'll meet you at the visitor centre. I'll bring something for food....just gotta figure out what. Any suggestions? Do we need something in particular?

    September 27, 2015

  • Kenny J.

    There is entirely too many comments here about where everyone is meeting. If your meeting @Kmart we will meet near shell station in the back corner. 4pm is the leaving time, plan to meet a few minutes early to situate carpooling. @Visitor's center: I will stand near the map over by the bathrooms to grab you, we will probably be there around 4:50 I will wait 15 minutes max, part of this time will be making sure cars have park passes and such. Then we will get back in the cars and head to the trailhead. @Alkali Flat: This is all the way in the back of the park, follow the loop and you cannot miss it, it has a sign that says Alkali Flat, there is an outhouse in the parking lot and no picnic tables. We should arrive around 5:30. We usually park in the right back corner and set up tables further up the right towards the dunes. It is YOUR responsibility to find the group, if you come late you're on your own! See everyone tomorrow.

    4 · September 26, 2015

    • Rosario R.

      WOW! Great job clarifying the meeting points :)

      2 · September 26, 2015

    • Rosario R.

      Thanks Kenny!

      2 · September 26, 2015

  • Joseph Y.

    I will bring tuna salad, paper plates, and plastic forks

    September 26, 2015

  • Mary H.

    My friend Sharon and I will meet the group at the visitor's center at 5:00.

    September 26, 2015

  • A former member
    A former member

    Carpooling from El Paso with Jody Manley, were bringing desert.....Jody where are we meeting the group?

    September 26, 2015

    • jody M.

      Visitors' center.

      September 26, 2015

  • jody M.

    Will meet at visitor's center. Bringing pasta salad.

    September 26, 2015

  • AJ P.

    I just moved from Alabama to start my career. I have room for 6 others in my vehicle, and I have good tunes. I'll be meeting at K-Mart!

    September 26, 2015

  • Elizabeth A

    Inoka and I will meet at the visitor's center

    September 26, 2015

  • A former member
    A former member

    Black bean & corn salsa

    September 26, 2015

    • Rosario R.

      Thanks so much for this link it will be a great read during this event.

      September 18, 2015

    • Veronica

      Awesome! I'm looking forward to playing with my camera!

      September 26, 2015

  • Norma G.

    I will bring a friend and we are bringing hummus and pita chips...will meet everyone at visitor center....

    September 25, 2015

  • Veronica

    New to Las Cruces, new to meet up and (relatively) new to hiking. Looking forward to meeting all of you and carpooling from K-mart!

    September 25, 2015

  • Shu Y. M.

    Rosario will carpool with us from EP to WS, she'll not go to Kmart.

    September 25, 2015

  • steven

    will meet you at the visitor center w/Omali and her plus 2

    September 25, 2015

  • Raena

    Please remember to comment on where you are meeting the group, IF you are not meeting the group at KMart in Las Cruces. See everyone Sunday!

    September 25, 2015

  • Shu Y. M.

    Meet at WS visitor center front parking lot at 5pm. Plan to bring cold grilled bratwurst.

    September 24, 2015

  • Omali J.

    Great to Join u guys...hopefully my newly arrived 2 frnds also will join me. We'll bring some crackers with tuna salad

    September 24, 2015

  • A former member
    A former member

    My dad's coming down to join from Silver City, we'll bring some beer and a salad.

    September 21, 2015

  • Daniel b.

    My best cold food contribution is chips and salsa so I'm in that far.

    September 21, 2015

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sounds like fun! Still working on the meal selection, though.

    September 21, 2015

  • Raena

    I will bring some sort of vegetarian side dish and my small camping table.

    September 20, 2015

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hi there want to meet up and at least follow from transmountain. Not sure if my little car can take the terrain never been to the flats.and is it ok for the potluck to bring a cooler of water and coconut water?

    September 20, 2015

    • Raena

      There is no limitation for cars in White Sands; the road is relatively flat and smooth (some bumps when turns to sand, but there have never been any problems). Bring whatever you would like to the potluck.

      September 20, 2015

  • A former member
    A former member

    My husband and I are moving to Ruidoso in about 2 weeks and will hopefully be at this hike. Looking forward to meeting other outdoor enthusiasts!

    September 8, 2015

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