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Backcountry Camping Trail

 3.8 (4)

Length


1.7 Miles 2.8 Kilometers


18' 5 m

Ascent

-13' -4 m

Descent

0%

Avg Grade (0°)

1%

Max Grade (0°)

3,979' 1,213 m

High

3,966' 1,209 m

Low

Shared By Brian Smith

Conditions


Unknown

Getting forecast...

A shorter alternative to Alkali Flat Trail, this loop offers a similar adventure in the dunes.

Brian Smith

Dogs Leashed

Features Views · Wildflowers

Visitor passes are $5 for adults and are valid for six days. Except for December 25, White Sands is open year round. Park hours vary throughout the year, generally from 8 am to 6 pm. Dunes Drive is occasionally closed due to missile testing at the adjacent range, blocking access to the trail. Weather closures occur on occasion as well. Hours and closure information can be found here.

Description

The Backcountry Loop is most commonly used by backpackers who want to spend the night in the dunes and under the stars. That said, it is also open to guests that are looking for a shorter hike than the Alkali Flat Trail through the heart of the dunes.

The trail is approximately 2.2 miles round-trip and is fairly strenuous as it meanders up and down over the dunes. The average completion time for the trail is roughly 1.5 hours.

Flora & Fauna

As expected, plant and animal life is sparse in the rough environment of White Sands. Desert grasses and shrubs take hold in some areas, with roots strong enough to create columns of sand as the dunes shift around them. Mesquite trees grow in some of the flatlands.

A surprising variety of animals live in White Sands. Beetles, snakes, and lizards are the most common and aren't hard to find. Hawks soar overhead, and owls can be found hunting prey. Mice and several types of foxes make their home here as well. Larger predators, like coyotes and bobcats, are not unheard of.

One especially unique feature to the area are species of mice, insects, and lizards who have evolved white coloration to camouflage them against the gypsum dunes. These animals are endemic to White Sands and aren't found anywhere else in the world.

Contacts

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Your Check-Ins

Check-Ins

Jun 9, 2018
Jean-Claude Linossi
Only walked a section of the trail, too hot and dangerous in heat. 1mi — 30h 00m
May 14, 2018
Matteo F
May 12, 2018
Matteo F
Nov 19, 2017
Austin Lynch
Sep 21, 2017
Sabrina Tavella
wild West Adventures 1.7mi
Apr 7, 2017
David Hitchcock
Nice hike amongst the dunes. 1.8mi — 1h 00m
Mar 28, 2016
Darcy McGuckin
Mar 27, 2016
Cassandra Robertson
great for a one over night camping trip 0.9mi

Trail Ratings

  3.8 from 4 votes

#13483

Overall
  3.8 from 4 votes
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4 Star
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3 Star
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Rankings

#207

in New Mexico

#13,483

Overall
23 Views Last Month
363 Since Jan 26, 2016
Intermediate Intermediate

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