See the wondrous geologic formations in a vast underground cavern system. Cave facilities offer easy walks or adventurous climbs and crawls.
Explore Carlsbad Caverns National Park’s underground ecosystems. Rainwater passing through soil has formed acids. These solutions dripped through native limestone, picking up minerals and then creating fascinating deposits called speleothems.
Descend an elevator roughly 79 stories and follow the 1.3-mile (2-kilometer) Big Room Trail. Alternatively, walk down the steep, serpentine 1.3-mile (2-kilometer) Natural Entrance Trail to reach the Big Room.
Notice how calcium deposits have built stalactites and stalagmites, some eventually joining as columns. Nature has decorated the caves with mineral features of draperies, thin straws, popcorn-shaped nodules and oddly curved helictites.
Rent an audio guide to understand the history and geology of the caves. Reserve a spot on a ranger-led tour, which includes more rigorous climbing and crawling into narrow passageways. Your tour may pass through chambers with interesting names: King's Palace, Spider Cave and Hall of the White Giant. In Slaughter Canyon Cave, deposits take the shape of a sparkling Christmas tree.
Surprisingly, this vast underground attraction is equipped with facilities you might expect at an aboveground park: paved walkways, handrails, artificial lighting, restrooms, water fountains and a snack bar. Dress appropriately for the cave’s year-round cool, humid conditions.
When you return to the surface, enjoy the park’s aboveground features. The Chihuahuan Desert is great for backcountry trekking past cacti and canyons. Visit the park museum, with over 1 million artifacts from the area’s more than 10,000 years of human history.
Stay for the evening Bat Flight ranger talk. From May to October, watch thousands of bats leaving the cave every night for their nocturnal wanderings.
Carlsbad Caverns is open year-round except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Purchase a park entry pass good for 3 days or use an annual National Park Service interagency pass. Guided cave tours have an additional fee. Some trail segments are accessible to wheelchairs. The park’s New Mexico location is about a 1.5-hour drive from Roswell and just over 2 hours from El Paso, Texas.
U.S. national parks offer affordable access to tall peaks and deep caverns. Enjoy your visit to the fascinating underground world of Carlsbad Caverns National Park.