Lake Lucero is the modern day source of sand at White Sands National Monument. It's located on an reserved part of the monument called the Cooperative Use Zone and is not easily accessible to the public.
Monthly, White Sands gives a Lake Lucero tour, driving there and doing a quarter mile hike to the lake bed. Instead, we are going to hike there from the main part of the park.
This hike will take you to terrain you rarely ever see; photographers do not even take photos.
A quick summary of the dangers on this hike:
- Dehydration: Even though it's unlikely air temperature crests 65°F, sunlight reflects off the sand making you feel much hotter, dehydrating you faster. This is in the deep dunes/desert, you must carry all of your own water.
- Military debris: There is a lot of military-related debris and litter once you leave the comfort of Dune Drive. DO NOT TOUCH IT!
- Remote: This is deep in the dunes and desert. If you need rescue, it will take a long time to get it.
- Wet/sinking sand: Out on the salt flats, the sand has a lot of moisture. You may sink as much as 3–4 in with each step. Needless to say it's difficult to walk through.
This hike requires a permit from White Sands National Monument from the law enforcement/military liaison ranger. Please e-mail Samat with your full name, name and number of an emergency contact (required!), and if you know, what you'll be wearing on the hike. We'll also need to submit the license plates of the in which we carpool.
DISTANCE is 23-24 mi roundtrip.
ELEVATION GAIN is lost, but the first 2/last 2 miles of the trek have you going through the steepest dunes in the monument, netting to a couple hundred feet climbed.
FEES: $3/person. Of course, if you carpool, please compensate your driver for gas! Special access permit is required.
DURATION: 11–12 hours. Plan for all day.
PET FRIENDLY? No—unless you think your pet can do this kind of mileage.
SKILL LEVEL is NOT beginner friendly. No whiners!
TERRAIN includes sand dunes, ranging from medium-coarse to very coarse (towards Lake Lucero). Over 3/4 of this hike is over completely flat terrain, with 1/4 over the steepest dunes in the park. The completely flat terrain may have extremely sticky sand/mud into which you sink.
WEATHER is unknown, hopefully clear.
MEET for carpool at:
- Las Cruces: 6:15 am, K-Mart parking lot on North Main/US 70 and Del Rey, near Shell. See map (OpenStreetMap or Google Maps).
- El Paso: 5:30 am, Walmart at Transmountain/US 54 at the west-most parking lot towards US 54. See map (Google Maps). Note: your organizer is not meeting here, please self-organize!
- White Sands National Monument entrance: 7 am (park opening).