Alamogordo, NM – The National Park Service (NPS) is working with the New Mexico State Police to investigate the fatality of a park visitor within White Sands National Monument discovered Wednesday night.
On Wednesday evening while closing the monument, park rangers discovered an unattended vehicle in the Alkali Flat Trail parking lot. After searching the immediate area, they expanded the search to the Alkali Flat Trail where they discovered an unresponsive male about a ½ mile from the trailhead. The daytime high temperature in the monument Wednesday reached 97 degrees F.
New Mexico State Police confirmed the death upon arrival on scene. The National Park Service will be coordinating with the state to investigate the incident. Further information is currently not available. The Alkali Flat Trail remains open at this time.
During extreme summer heat it is critical to be prepared and know your limitations. For summer hiking at White Sands, NPS recommends to start in the coolest part of the day, which is early morning or early evening. We recommend that visitors not start a hike when the temperature is at or above 85 degrees F. There is no shade or water along and of the trails in the monument.
We also recommend that hikers bring at least one gallon of water per person per day and high energy snacks. Wear a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and lightweight, loose-fitting clothing with long sleeves and long pants to help protect skin from the sun. Always have a plan when you hike and tell someone who is not in your party where you are hiking and when you plan to return.
More information on safety precautions, as well as active safety alerts, within the monument can be found here: www.nps.gov/whsa/planyourvisit/safety.htm.