Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
50.00 ft (15.24 m)
Trail type
5.00 mi (8.05 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Alkali Flat Trail is a 5-mile loop through the heart of the White Sands National Monument that leads to the Alkali Salt Flat. The trail is extremly well marked, and the key to staying oriented is to always keep one of the bright orange trail markers in sight. The trail leaves the parking area and trailhead and goes straight into the dunes. Most of the trail undulates through the white sands. After 2 miles the trail arrives at the Alkali Flat, where the gypsum sand originates. The dunes open up to views of the San Andreas Mountains in the distance. Head back following the orange trail markers to the trailhead.  

If time permits, wander around the dunes (keeping the trail markers in sight). Hikers can find sand formations created by sumac holding its roots in the sand. In this part of the park the valleys of the dunes do have some plant life, but not much. The majority of the trail consists of the dunes that the park is known for. Hikers will never experiance the same trail twice because the dunes are constantly changing and moving. 

Before visiting, check the park's website because the park is closed from time to time due to White Sands Missile Range operations.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

National or state forest pass

Open Year-round



Scenic views. Explore on your own.



Trailhead Elevation

4,020.00 ft (1,225.30 m)

Highest point

4,020.00 ft (1,225.30 m)


Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Adventures

White Sands National Park, New Mexico
White Sands National Park, New Mexico
White Sands National Park, New Mexico

Nearby Lodging + Camping


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