Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park

Carlsbad, New Mexico

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park is the only zoo and botanical gardens dedicated exclusively to North America’s largest desert, the Chihuahuan Desert. Located atop the Ocotillo Hills west of Hwy. 285 overlooking Carlsbad, New Mexico the zoo opened in 1971.


The Visitor Center is surrounded by beautiful native landscaping and contains informative and interactive exhibits, including a popular “Touch Table” where you can pick up a real elk antler or compare your foot to the print of a black bear. The Visitor Center also houses a beautiful Gem and Mineral collection and a diverse display of animal skulls.

The handicap-accessible self-guided trail through the zoo is 1.3 miles long and takes about 1 ½ hours to complete. Along the trail are full color English-Spanish signs highlighting the exhibit animals and also many of the more conspicuous and notable plants. The trail winds through habitat zones that simulate different areas of the desert and its geology, including sand hills, gypsum hills, desert uplands, an arroyo, the piñon-juniper zone, and a canyon exhibit. Instead of being laid out like a garden, the plants grow as they would in nature, and the animals are housed in carefully crafted realistic exhibits along the way.

Mexican Gray wolf

Mountain Lion

There is also an aviary with many birds of prey in large cages as well as a walk-through free flight area which houses native song birds and a resident roadrunner. The nocturnal exhibit goes through a hill and houses animals such as salamanders, toads and tarantulas. The interactive displays here demonstrate how animals use their senses at night, including night-vision binoculars and animal calls. At the end of the trail is a large greenhouse with beautiful succulents from around the world.





Education Programs
Nature Interpretive Programs for All Ages
Special Events & Activities


1.3 Miles
Interpretive Trails
Accessible Trails (ADA)

Wildlife Viewing
Zoo Exhibits


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.

Zoo Hours


 through LABOR DAY
8:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Last entrance into the zoo is 3:30 p.m.

TUESDAY after LABOR DAY through
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Last entrance into the zoo is 3:30 p.m.

OPEN 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. ALL YEAR

6 and under  Free
 7 – 12            $3.00
 13 and up      $5.00


Park Map

Park Map

Click on map for larger PDF

Where To Stay

Hotels/Motels There are hotels and motels in Carlsbad, NM with something for every taste and price range. For more information and a complete list. Hotel Rates, availability, customer reviews and reservation online

Camping & RV Parks

There are 4 campgrounds/RV parks in the Carlsbad area. For a complete list


Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce
PO Box 910,
302 South Canal
Carlsbad, NM 88220
Tel: 800-221-1224, Fax: 505-885-1455

Parks & Monuments In Area



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