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Dune Life Nature Trail

Easy/Intermediate
 3.9 (10)

Your introduction to the fascinating landscape of White Sands National Monument.


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Map Key

0.9

Miles

1.5

KM

Point to Point

4,016' 1,224 m

High

3,986' 1,215 m

Low

69' 21 m

Up

52' 16 m

Down

2%

Avg Grade (1°)

5%

Max Grade (3°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Family Friendly This trail has a few dunes to climb but is easy to hike. Kids would enjoy walking up and down the dunes.

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

When you enter the White Sands National Monument, this is your first opportunity to hike on the sand. Although there isn't a true "trail" for much of this loop, the sand portions of this route is well-marked with orange posts buried in the sand. This loop is located along the fringe of the dune field and, therefore, is more densely vegetated than many other portions of the dunes.

The trail crosses the flat vegetated desert plain for the first 300 yards or so before beginning to ascend into the dunes. Along the way, trailside exhibits offer lots of information about the wildlife that you might see in the White Sands. Each display board in broken into two sections of information--one for adults and one for kids.

That said, this is not a play area - the trail is intended for nature study. Kids (and adults!) are welcome play out in the "Heart of the Sands," beside the picnic areas, away from plants and the road.

Flora & Fauna

White Sands National Monument experiences especially harsh environmental conditions, even for the desert. That hasn’t stopped many species of animal from adapting, surviving, and even flourishing here. If you look hard enough, you may see tracks in the sand to remind yourself of their presence. And while it may be difficult to believe, there are more than 800 types of animals that call white sands their home.

Plants play a crucial function in the ecosystems of White Sands National Monument, stabilizing the windward sides of the dunes and providing both shelter and food for fauna.

Contacts

Shared By:

Brian Smith with improvements by Jean-Claude Linossi

Trail Ratings

  3.9 from 10 votes

#10115

Overall
  3.9 from 10 votes
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Trail Rankings

#155

in New Mexico

#10,115

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15 Views Last Month
561 Since Jan 26, 2016
Easy/Intermediate

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Photos

Watching the moon rise on the White Sands National Monument's "Full Moon Hike," held each month during the full moon.
Jul 19, 2019 near Holloma…, NM
The Sacramento Mountains seen from the Dune Life Nature Trail.
Feb 25, 2019 near Holloma…, NM
The San Andres Mountains as seen from the Dune Life Nature Trail.
Feb 25, 2019 near Holloma…, NM
White Sands National Monument Dune Life Nature Trail.
Jan 26, 2016 near Holloma…, NM
Rio Grande cottonwood (Populus deltoides subsp. wislizeni) on White Sands National Monument Dune Life Nature Trail
Jan 26, 2016 near Holloma…, NM
Full moon during our full moon hike
Jul 16, 2019 near Holloma…, NM

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Check-Ins

Jul 10, 2021
Tiff C
Apr 5, 2021
Charlotte Simpson
Mar 4, 2021
Donna Kepf
1.3mi
Mar 4, 2021
Nick Kepf
Good introduction to hiking on the white sand. 1.1mi — 0h 33m
Jan 24, 2021
Krystle Pickler
0.9mi
Jan 22, 2021
Christine Hudson
Jan 17, 2021
Alan alan@laird.net
1 mile loop with enough to interest kids. Good introduction but you'll probably want more.
Nov 26, 2020
Kayla Bostic