Alkali Flat Trail

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico 88310

Elevation Gain797ft
Trailhead Elevation3,966ft
Elevation Min/Max3935/3988ft
Elevation Start/End3966/3966ft

Alkali Flat Trail

Alkali Flat Trail is a hiking trail in Otero County, New Mexico. It is within White Sands National Monument. It is 4.6 miles long and begins at 3,966 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 9.3 miles with a total elevation gain of 797 feet. Near the trailhead there are restrooms.

Alkali Flat Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Hiking New Mexico - 4th Edition (Falcon Guides)
Laurence Parent
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"A short loop day hike through a large dune field to Alkali Flat, a source of gypsum sand for White Sands National Monument. The Alkali Flat Trail leads through the heart of the dunes at White Sands National Monument. The dunes are large, closely spaced, and move with every wind storm, allowing little vegetation to survive. The landscape, with bright white dunes, endless sky, and distant mountain ranges, has a stark appeal."
100 Hikes in New Mexico (The Mountaineers Books)
Craig Martin
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"A hike at White Sands is a unique experience. This huge sand pile is composed of gypsum, not the more common quartz. Gypsum sand is softgrained and smooth, giving these dunes a different, pleasant feel to bare feet. The fine sand also makes for easy animal tracking. The gypsum weathers out of the ancient seabed rocks of surrounding mountains. It is dissolved and transported by runoff, accumulating in Lake Lucero in the western part of the monument. The gypsum precipitates out of the evaporating lake water and is deposited on the lake bottom. In this desert environment, the lake is completely dry most of the year. Strong, westerly winds then push the gypsum eastward into large dunes."

Alkali Flat Trail Trip Reports

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White Sands is definitely unique - I have never seen anything like it in my life. You are hiking through massive snow white sand dunes with very little vegetation. Some of the dunes are as high as 40 feet! The highlight of the hike was climing to the top of the dunes and sliding down - some people even bring toboggans! The one recommendation I have for anyone hiking White Sands is to go when there is very little wind. That wind picked up about halfway through our hike and it is then all but impossible to keep the blowing sand out of your eyes, ears, nose and mouth. It is MUCH more fun when there is no wind.

Alkali Flat Trail Photos

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Trail Information

White Sands National Monument
Nearby City
White Sands National Monument
Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly
Skill Level
White Sands National Monument, PO Box 1086, Holloman AFB, NM 88330; (575) 479-6124
Local Contacts
Alkali Flat Trail brochure; Heart of the Sands 7.5-minute USGS quad
Local Maps

Trail Log