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" (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. 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 (http://www.nps.gov/whsa/planyourvisit/upload/Dunes_Drive_with_blackband_web_version_2_6_15.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: $5/person. If you have a Federal Lands Pass, please bring them; they are accepted here. If you carpool, please remember to compensate your driver (suggested amount is at least $5).
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 good for a first hike, but still 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. (http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lon=-106.273515&lat=32.820625) It can be surprisingly cool on dunes, especially if they are damp.
AFTERWARDS we'll go home.
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 (http://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: 4:45 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 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 (http://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: 7:00 pm, at the trailhead register. GPS:[masked]°N,[masked]°W (http://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!
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!
⚫ White Sands National Monument's Website (http://www.nps.gov/whsa/)
⚫ GPS track