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Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park

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This native wildlife zoo exhibits more than 40 species of animals and hundreds of species of plants native to the Chihuahuan Desert.

The park provides an up-close experience for visitors, with a variety of fun interpretive programs for every season geared for the entire family. Living Desert also has beautiful hiking trails, picnic areas, and group facilities. There is no camping, and no pets are allowed.

Park Elevation 3,482 ft

Please see the Park Alerts section for more information.

Walking Tour

The walking tour through the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park is 1.3 miles roundtrip. The trail descends gradually in elevation for the first half and then climbs back up to the Visitor Center. The elevation change is only 70 feet. This is the same trail that the zoo visitors take but many visitors call this a pleasant hike and a great way to experience the flora and fauna of the Chihuahuan Desert.  Since the park is on the top of a ridge in the Ocotillo Hills there are excellent views of the Pecos River valley and the town of Carlsbad. Benches, shade, restrooms and drinking fountains along the route make this a very civilized hike! Regular entrance fees apply.

Ocotillo Hills Nature Trail

The Ocotillo Hills Nature Trail is adjacent to the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park. This trail is accessed from Skyline Drive or behind Southeast New Mexico College. The trail is 0.9 miles long and travels through the canyon south of the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens on State Park and other public land. There is an elevation change of approximately 245 feet. The trail is maintained by the City of Carlsbad. Directions and information may be accessed here:

Hiking this trail is free.


  • Education Programs
  • Nature Interpretive Programs for All Ages
  • Picnicking
  • Special Events & Activities
  • Trails:
    • 1.3 Miles
    • Hiking
    • Interpretive Trails
    • Accessible Trails (ADA)
  • Wildlife Viewing
    • Zoo Exhibits
    • Birding
  • Prohibited:
    • Only trained service dogs permitted in the zoo (no pets in the zoo).
    • There are no kennel facilities for pets – Please do not leave pets in cars on hot days when temperatures are too high.


  • Gardens
  • Gift Shop & Book Store
  • Greenhouse: “Succulents of the World”
  • Group Facilities:
    • Group Picnic Shelter
    • Meeting Room
    • Event Rental Space for Private Events
  • Visitor Center:
    • Interpretive Exhibits
    • Mineral Exhibits
  • Zoo Exhibits


9 am-5 pm
Last entry into Zoo is 3:30 pm
Gift Shop: 9 am-4 pm


1504 Skyline Dr.
Carlsbad, NM 88220


David Heckard
Zoo Director