Plan your Visit to
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Well Known and Worth the Visit
It is among the most well-known national parks and has been visited by over half a million people annually since its establishment in 1930. The entire Carlsbad Caverns National Park encompasses an area of 46,766 acres filled with an elaborate cavern system that attracts families and individuals throughout the world and from all walks of life to one of New Mexico’s largest natural wonders.
When to go
January – February – March – April – May – June – July – August – September – October – November – December
Bird-Watching – Geological Formations – Hiking – Wildlife
If you have ever seen a picture taken from Carlsbad Caverns National Park it likely contained a lot of bats. This is an annual program known as the bat flight program. Each year a new crop of bats are born and the highest numbers are generally seen during the month of August. Each evening visitors are able to talk to the rangers about the bats just before sunset. Before the sun is completely set, thousands of bats fly from the cavern into the night for hunting. The early morning return of the bats is another time they can be seen coming home to the caves. It is important to keep the bats safe at all times and therefore photography of any kind is prohibited. The devices used to capture a picture may not make much noise, but the sonar capabilities of the bats can pick up on the noise and disrupt their flight pattern.
Night Sky Viewing
The remote location of Carlsbad Caverns National Park means that there is no interference from light sources, such as large cities, that keep much of the night sky from being visible. The park regularly hosts star parties and other events that bring people together for an unbelievable view of the stars. Views of practically every constellation can be seen from the park provided the moon is not full and even sights of the international space station have been seen if you know where to look. The rangers at Carlsbad Caverns National Park are experts when it comes to these celestial events and are wonderful sources for information. Some even offer night tours to get the best vantage point for viewing the stars.
It is obvious that when you come to Carlsbad Caverns National Park that you will have to take advantage of the amazing cave tours offered. The tours are given in one of two ways. There are self-guided tours as well as ranger led tours, so the choice is up to you. Some of the most popular ranger led tours are Left Hand Tunnel which is a rigorous 2-hour hike through the cave with many steep areas, so make sure you are in relatively good health before taking on this tour. Another popular ranger led tour is The King’s Palace Tour. This tour is suitable for most people and only takes up around 1 and a half hours to complete.
Prices for tours are an additional cost and can range from $7 up t twenty dollars depending on the type of excursion you choose. Even on the hottest of days the interior of the cavern can be around 56 F, so you may want to bring along a light jacket if you are prone to getting cold easily. There are also no strollers permitted on tours, so make have a child carrier available for very small children. Food is also not permitted within the caves and if you have visited caves wearing the same shoes or using the same camera please tell the rangers so they can wipe down those items to keep from infecting the bats with other diseases from other caves.
Things to Know
Anyone visiting Carlsbad Caverns National Park that is over the age of 15 has to purchase a ticket to enter the park. The fee is $10 but allows entry into the park for 3 full days. There are also many fee free days to take advantage of throughout the year so make sure that your visit falls on one of those days if you are concerned about the family budget.
Unfortunately, unlike many of the other national parks, there are no developed campgrounds within Carlsbad Caverns National Park. There are however many campgrounds available in surrounding towns, but if you must camp within the park, you are permitted to backcountry camp. There will be no amenities, but this option is free as long as you get a permit to do so. Permits are given on a first come first serve basis, so arrive early to get yours before all available campsites are taken up. When backcountry camping always follow the rules of leaving no trace behind. That includes personal trash as well as any food left behind that could harm the animals.