Address: 32°46'45"N, 106°10'19"W Parking: Parking /entrance fee is $5 at the address above Hours: 7 A.M. to 5 P.M. (Closed Christmas day and missile test days; extended hours to 9 P.M. throughout the year-see below.)
Type: Hike (moderate)/ camping Regulations: Dogs allowed on-leash Best time to visit: Fall on a cool day, or in the early morning. There can be strong winds in Spring, and Summer is too hot to hike. CAUTION: Trails can reach 120 degrees in full sunlight, so do not attempt the hike on a hot day. Water is only available at the visitor's center. Strong winds can make it easy to get lost, so the trails are marked periodically by orange reflective trail markers. Make sure you can an orange reflective trail post is always in sight, or turn back if you cannot see the next one.
Description: This is a place you have to see to believe: 275 square miles or gypsum sand dunes- the world's largest. It's an amazing hike through bright white dune fields, and in some areas there is no vegetation so it makes you feel like you're in the middle of snow. The Alkali Flats Trail is my favorite, and although it can be strenuous because it's a 4.6 mile round-trip hike requiring continuous ups and downs across the dunes, it's worth at least a partial hike because it snakes through the heart of the dunes and has a great view of the mountains as a back drop. The Dune Life Nature Trail is a 1 mile loop at the beginning of the park, but because it has heavy vegetation, it's not as breathtaking as the snow white Alkali Flats Trail. The Playa Trail is a 2.5 mile mostly flat trail, and at certain times of the year the playa fills with water. The Playa Boardwalk Trail is a 650 yard elevated boardwalk that is fully accessible for wheel chairs. It's a scenic walk, with covered picnic tables half-way and a lookout point at the end.
Water and restrooms are available at the visitor's center. Restrooms are spread throughout the park near parking lots at the trail heads. Picnic tables are available in the middle of the park. Sleds are available for $10 in the visitor's center for dune sledding.
10 campsites are available to backpackers on a first-come basis for a fee at the gate. Reservations are not available.