Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Quick Facts

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

New Mexico

(575) 785-2232

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Beneath the rugged land of rocky slopes and canyons, lies a hidden underground treasure. Carlsbad Caverns National Park is home to more than 117 known caves - all formed as sulfuric acid dissolved the surrounding limestone. The Big Room will give visitors a peak into the main section of a cave, while guided tours of varying difficulties can be reserved in advance. Opportunities for hiking and backcountry camping are also available with permits. Join in on one of the programs in the visitor center, or during the summer watch the incredible exodus of Mexican free-tail bats out of Carlsbad Cavern at dusk. The park is also known for its star party events and night sky programs.

Map of Carlsbad Caverns

Latitude, Longitude: 32.077052, -104.542833

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Activities

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    Walnut Canyon drive is a seven-mile scenic drive to the park visitor center.

  • Camping

    Camping at Carlsbad Caverns National Park is permitted only in the backcountry. All backcountry users are required to obtain a free backcountry use permit at the visitor center.

  • Caving

    Carlsbad offers self-guided and guided cave tours, both which require entrance fee tickets. Guided tours range in difficulty from walking on paved trails or rough dirt trails, to crawling through narrow cave passages. Consult the park newspaper, website, or ask a ranger for more information regarding difficulty and required equipment. Children 3 years of age and younger are not permitted on any of the guided tours.

    Download the park's accessibility guide here: http://www.nps.gov/cave/planyourvisit/upload/Accessibility.pdf.

  • Hiking

    Opportunities for backcountry hiking and camping do exist with a free permit obtained from the visitor center. A section of the self-guided nature trail near the visitor center is partially accessible to wheelchair use. The trailhead is located in the east parking lot. Check at the information desk for more details.

  • Picnicking

    Accessible picnic tables near the visitor center are located at the far end of the south parking lot and just west and north of the restaurant.

    Rattlesnake Springs picnic area is Located about 15-miles from the visitor center. This grassy area features picnic tables and cooking grills under large cottonwood trees. Accessible restrooms are available as well as one accessible picnic table.

  • Wildlife Watching

    Each evening in summer, nearly 400,000 Brazilian (aka Mexican) free-tail bats exit Carlsbad Cavern in search of a smorgasbord of insects for dinner. Prior to the evening bat flight, a program is given at the cavern entrance by a park ranger. The starting time of the talk varies with sunset--it is best to call the park at (575) 785-3012 or check at the visitor center for the exact time and details. Programs may be canceled in the event of inclement weather.

Seasonality/Weather

Carlsbad Caverns averages 14.9 inches of annual precipitation with a monsoon season that usually occurs from July through September. The park has a semi-arid climate with generally mild winters and warm to hot summers. The average annual high temperature is 74 F and the average annual low temperature is 50 F with a mean annual temperature of 63 F.

The cave climate is cool and varies little from the annual 56 F average temperature. A light jacket or sweater, and comfortable shoes with rubber soles for good traction are appropriate year-round.

Park Partners

Carlsbad Caverns Guadalupe Mountains Association

The Carlsbad Caverns Guadalupe Mountains Association (CCGMA) is a private, non-profit organization whose main objectives are to provide interpretation for the park visitor and to support the purposes and mission of the National Park Service at Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and the lands related to them in New Mexico and west Texas. The goals of CCGMA are accomplished through educational programs using a variety of educational media and scientific investigations resulting in a greater appreciation of those resources being conserved for this and future generations.

CCGMA has three retail bookstore outlets located at Carlsbad Caverns, Guadalupe Mountains, and the parks' administrative office building located in the city of Carlsbad. To learn more, shop on-line, or to become a member, visit www.ccgma.org. Staff are also available by phone during normal business hours at (575) 785-2486.

(575) 785-2486

Carlsbad Cavern Trading Company

Carlsbad Cavern Trading Company's gift shop and restaurant are housed in the newly refurbished visitor center directly above the caverns. The gift shop offers cave and geology related items, gifts inspired by the surrounding desert, and authentic Native American handcrafts. Also available are regional food products, souvenirs (T-shirts, mugs, caps, etc.), and breathtaking prints of Carlsbad Caverns.

Carlsbad Cavern Trading Company also operates the cave's famed Underground Lunchroom. Visitors can purchase a meal and eat at a personal lantern lit table. To protect the cave, food service is limited to sandwiches, salads, yogurt, parfaits, beverages and other items that do not involve cooking in the caverns. Sweatshirts, t-shirts, and a small selection of other items are for sale, though underground selections are somewhat limited to protect the cave. One of the most popular activities for visitors is to write and send postcards from underground. There is a mailbox in the caverns, and visitors can stamp their postcards "Mailed from 750 feet below ground." Visitors may also have their photo taken in a photo booth that provides souvenir pictures and also allows guests to send "video emails" of themselves in the caverns to friends and family on the surface.

(575) 785-2281

Directions

Driving

To access Carlsbad Caverns National Park, turn north from US Hwy 62/180 at Whites City, New Mexico. This will be 16-miles southwest of Carlsbad, New Mexico, and 150-miles northeast of El Paso, Texas. The entrance road stretches a scenic, seven-miles from the park gate at Whites City, to the visitor center and cavern entrance.

Flying

Mesa Airlines offers passenger service between Carlsbad and Albuquerque. Major airlines serve Albuquerque, El Paso, Lubbock, and Midland, Texas. Rental cars and taxi service are available from the airport at Carlsbad.

Public Transportation

Carlsbad is served by Greyhound and TNM&O bus lines.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(575) 785-2232

Links