Have you ever wondered how the white sands formed and why Lake Lucero is often referred to as the birthplace of the dunes?
Take a tour to Lake Lucero with a park ranger and learn about the formation of the sands. Park rangers will share the geologic story of White Sands National Park as you traverse a steep gully down to the lake bed and walk by thousands of exposed selenite crystals, which are critical to the formation of the gypsum sand. Lake Lucero is a dry lake bed that only fills with water when there has been abundant rain or snow in the surrounding area.
The hike from the trailhead to the lake and back is 1.5 miles (2.41 km) long over rough desert terrain and washes. This hike is rated as moderate and the trail is not maintained. This trail is down an arroyo where the soil is loose and the terrain is uneven. The trail slopes gradually downhill toward the lake, which means the hike back to the vehicles is gently uphill. Leaving the tour early is prohibited. All guests must enter and leave with the caravan. Participants must be physically capable of walking the entire distance. White Sands National Park offers reservations in advance for guided tours throughout the year.
The park offers the Lake Lucero tours once a month October through March. Reservations are required to participate in the program. For more information, visit the park's website.
2023/2024 Lake Lucero Tours:
Saturday, January 21, 2023 at 10:00 am
Saturday, February 18, 2023 at 10:00 am
Saturday, March 18, 2023 at 10:00 am
Saturday, November 18, 2023 at 10:00 am
Saturday, December 16, 2023 at 10:00 am
Saturday, January 20, 2024 at 10:00 am
Saturday, February 17, 2024 at 10:00 am
Saturday, March 16, 2024 at 10:00 am
Tickets are available two months before the tour date at 8:00 am mountain Time. For example, if the tour is on May 15, tickets will be available at 8:00 am MT on March 15.
Select a date to see a list of times
You will be outside for several hours and walking 1.5 miles (2.41 km) roundtrip over rough, uneven desert terrain and washes. The trail is not wheelchair accessible. Emergency medical response will be delayed due to the remote location. Emergency services can be up to one hour away. Health concerns should be carefully considered before committing to this hike.
Bring ample drinking water (at least two liters per person), snacks, hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses. No water is available on the trail. Rangers will not have extra water.
Closed-toe shoes such as hiking boots or stout walking shoes are required. No sandals or open-toe shoes are allowed.
Dress accordingly for the weather. Long sleeves and long pants are highly recommended even on warm days to protect your skin from the sun.
Due to difficult conditions (i.e., sun, heat, rough trail, and remote location), it is not recommended to bring young children and infants on this tour. This tour is not stroller-accessible.
The meeting location for the tour will be at the Small Missile Range gate at mile marker 175 on US Hwy 70. You will caravan in your own car from the Small Missile Range gate to the trailhead 17.5 miles (27.36 km) one-way or 35 miles (56.33 km) roundtrip across White Sands Missile Range property. You must stay in the caravan at all times.
It is necessary to have a sufficient amount of fuel and a spare tire in case of a flat. No services are available, and cell phone reception is poor.
Please carpool with friends and family due to limited parking and restrictions on the number of vehicles permitted in the caravan to the trailhead.
Tour check-in begins 40-minutes before program start time at the Small Missile Range gate.
The caravan will leave promptly at the stated tour start time. If you arrive after the caravan has left, you will not be able to join the tour.
The taking of pictures and/or video recordings of any kind is prohibited on White Sands Missile Range property. Once at the trailhead, and on park property, the ranger will notify you when you may begin taking photos or videos.
Per missile range rules, concealed carry weapons are NOT allowed on the tour.
Pets and service animals are allowed as long as they are non-disruptive, on a leash no longer than six feet (2 m), and under physical control at all times. Please pick up after your pet.
Programs may be canceled due to weather or missile range activities. If a program is canceled, it will not be re-scheduled.
Pass discounts are not available for any White Sands Tours.
Possessing or removing any natural, cultural, Native American artifacts, paleontological and archaeological resources, including gypsum Selenite crystals, is prohibited.