Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
40.00 ft (12.19 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
1.00 mi (1.61 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 Dune Life Nature Trail is a one-mile loop located in New Mexico’s White Sands National Park. There is a fee to enter the park.  This trail is at the edge of the dunefield which makes it a unique combination of the desert scrub and gypsum sand dunes ecosystems. There are interpretive signs throughout this hike that provide information about the animals that live in the park. Unlike most national parks, dogs are allowed on this trail when kept on a leash that is six feet long or shorter. Parking for this hike is located 2.5 miles from the Visitor Center.

To follow the Dune Life Nature Trail, look for the blue trail markers which have the club symbol on them. This trail starts on the level desert plain, after a few hundred yards the climbs a steep sand dune. At the top of the dune, you will have your first sweeping views of this unique landscape. Head to your left to begin the loop, following the markers. The trail goes through soft sand which is more difficult to hike on than a typical hike. During this hike, it is not likely that you will see the animals described in the interpretive signs, but might see their tracks in the sand. About halfway through this hike there are outstanding views of the San Andres Mountains. Continue the hike, observing the unique interdune landscape and plant life along the way.

Keep safety in mind when hiking this trail. Temperatures during the summer can exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit. During high temperatures hiking is not recommended. Bring plenty of water with you. Note there is no water available at the trailhead, so fill up at the Visitor Center. Protect your skin from the sun with appropriate clothes and sunscreen, and protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses. And finally, during your hike always look for the next trail marker before continuing your hike. Blowing sand can reduce visibility and makers can be knocked down, so if cannot see the next marker, return to your vehicle.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

NPS Free Permit

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Informative. Well-marked trails.

Cons

Exposed to sun.

Trailhead Elevation

4,003.00 ft (1,220.11 m)

Highest point

4,043.00 ft (1,232.31 m)

Features

Family friendly
Geologically significant
Big vistas
Wildlife

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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