Explore the Inside of the Earth

Temple of the Sun column surrounded by hundreds of stalactites in the Big Room of Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Temple of the Sun column surrounded by hundreds of stalactites in the Big Room

Carlsbad Caverns National Park is a stunning place whether you’re a cave fanatic or never thought twice about one. Check out the Big Room, North America’s largest single cave chamber that's as large as six football fields. The self-guided 1.25 mile paved trail takes about an hour and a half to complete, stopping to read interpretive signs on the way.

There are two ways to go to and from the Big Room entrance. Hike 1.25 miles on a steep partially-paved trail via the Natural Entrance, or use the Visitor Center's elevator to descend 750 feet. A popular route is to take the mostly-downhill trail from the Natural Entrance to the Big Room, and after your tour, take the elevator up to the Visitor Center.

To explore other caves, make reservations at least 48 hours in advance for a ranger guided tour, ranging from easy to very difficult. Adults tickets start at $7, in addition to your cave entrance fee. Each cave has a different minimum age requirement for children based on the difficulty of the excursion.

For reservations go to recreation.gov or call 877-444-6777.

Adventures Above Ground

Walnut Canyon Desert Drive in Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Walnut Canyon Desert Drive

Bat Flight Program. See thousands of migrating bats emerge from the caves at sunset and re-enter the caves in early morning hours (4-6 a.m.) from late April through October. The free sunset Bat Flight Program runs from late May through October at the amphitheater outside the Natural Cave Entrance and includes a ranger talk. Seating is first-come, first-serve. No electronic devices are allowed at the program including cameras, cell phones and laptops because the sounds of electronics disturb the bats.

Star Walks, Moon Hikes and Star Parties. See the park's dark skies lit up by the moon and stars when a ranger leads you to the best gazing spots. Not up for hiking in the dark? Visit during one of the four summer dates that astronomers set up telescopes and help you discover planets and star clusters. Night ranger activities start from the amphitheater after the Bat Flight Program. Long pants, closed-toed shoes and red flashlights/headlamps are required for walks and hikes. Learn more at www.nps.gov/cave/planyourvisit/nightsky.htm.

Scenic Drive. See undulating landscapes on the park's 9.5-mile Walnut Canyon Desert Drive along the rim of Rattlesnake Canyon. Keep you eye out for hawks, deer and even wild pigs. Sunrise and sunset cruises give a spectacular light show on the canyon walls. Low-clearance vehicles, RVs and trailers are not permitted on this gravel road with sharp turns.

Need to Know

There is no park entrance fee to enter the grounds of Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Your only fees are the Cave Entrance Fee (covered with the America the Beautiful Park Pass) and Tour Fees. The cave entrance fee is $15 (as of Jan. 1, 2019) for adults; kids 15 and younger are free. In 2018, adults are $12.

Carlsbad Caverns' caves have strict operating hours of 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. You may not enter the caves later than 2:30 p.m. by hike or 3:30 p.m. by elevator. You must exit the caves by 3:30 p.m. by hike and 4:45 p.m. by elevator.

Carlsbad Caverns lies on the edge of a time zone so your cell phone may have a hard time showing accurate time. Walking from one end of the Visitor Center to the other may have your cell phone flip flop time back and forth several times. But don't worry about missing your tour. If you arrive at the wrong time zone, you'll be an hour early.

Gateway to the Caverns

Carlsbad, N.M., serves as the gateway to both Carlsbad Caverns National Park, located 28 miles southwest of the city, and to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, which lies 50 miles farther southwest across the Texas border. It's located in the Chihuahuan Desert on the beautiful Pecos River. Hiking, golfing, and water recreation are just a few of the numerous activities to enjoy on the sunshine-filled days in Carlsbad.

For more information:

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce
302 South Canal Street, Carlsbad, New Mexico 88220
(866) 822-9226


Slaughter Canyon Cave in Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Go Below Carlsbad, New Mexico

See world-class caves at Carlsbad Caverns National Park and dip in a natural swimming hole under a waterfall.

Downtown Santa Fe

New Mexico and Colorado National Parks Road Trip

Stunning landscapes, culture and adobe villages await on this 2,121-mile trip starting in El Paso, Texas. See multiple national parks in both Colorado and New Mexico.

Santa Fe cowgirl at the museum

10 Ways to Find True New Mexico in Santa Fe County

Drive the 62-mile Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway and discover our top ten things to do in Santa Fe County along the way.

White Sands National Monument in New Mexico

Sand and Sun at White Sands National Monument

Play in the giant sandbox of white gypsum in New Mexico

A room in Taos Inn

Taos, NM | The Historic Taos Inn

Discover why Greta Garbo and Robert Redford have spent time at this hotel, two hours south of Colorado's Great Sand Dunes NP.

Hot Air Balloon Festival in Albuquerque, N.M.

Albuquerque, NM - Hot Air Balloons and Route 66

Diverse cultures, authentic art, hot air balloons rising with the sun, and a sunny climate enjoyed year-round summarize this destination on the Mother Road.

Cave at Glenwood Caverns in Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Go Underground and Airborne at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Ride a scenic tram to the mountaintop to explore caves in the heart of Iron Mountain, family-friendly attractions and thrill rides on Glenwood Canyon's edge.

Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site near El Paso, Texas

Bordering Food and Fun in El Paso, Texas

Outdoor adventures and a fascinating glimpse of life hundreds of years before Texas became a state. Here are the best things to do.

Cliff Palace Tour in Mesa Verde National Park

7 Four Corners Gems Surrounding Mesa Verde National Park

From a thriving restaurant scene to rare opportunities to learn about our nation’s ancient history, Cortez, Mancos and Dolores offer more than just uncrowded trails in one of Colorado’s most undiscovered corners. Here are the top 7 things to do in Mesa Verde country.