Designated as a National Park on May 14, 1930, Carlsbad Caverns National Park was established to preserve Carlsbad Cavern and more than 100 caves within the Permian-age fossil reef. This park houses a limestone chamber called the Big Room, which is almost 4,000 feet long, 625 feet wide and 255 feet high, and is considered the fifth largest cave chamber in North America.
Carlsbad Cavern is easily accessible for all ages, and even those on wheel chairs in the major caves. The 700+ feet elevator from the visitor center to Carlsbad Cavern makes visiting the cave easier for those that need additional help.
Big Room Trail – This is largest cave chamber by volume in North America with 1.25 mile of flat trail with parts that are wheelchair accessible. The Big Room (size of 6 football fields) can be accessed via the National Entrance route (1.25 mile trail) and elevator directly from the Visitor Center. Most of the cave is well lit and there’s even a cafeteria if you need a snack and drink underground. This is the only cave we’ve seen with food sold! This was Harvey’s first big cave experience and he absolutely loved it. He enjoyed learning about the soda straws, popcorns, stalagmites, and different tiny creatures and bats that live in Carlsbad Caverns.
Rattlesnake Canyon Trail – This is a 9 mile scenic drive or hike that showcase the beautiful surrounding landscape and plants that live on the surface of the cave. We drove this trail and learn as much as we can with the self-guided brochure that is available in the visitor center.
Natural Entrance Trail – This is a 1.25 mile steep trail that takes you down to Carlsbad Caverns. We weren’t able to do this trail because Harvey was not ready for the dark cave trail. But, if you come at the natural entrance at dusk in the summer time, you can see thousands of bats fly out!! Isn’t that so cool?
We stayed at an RV park in White City, NM, right outside of Carlsbad Caverns National Park. The RV park is very basic and on the high-end for what you get. White City is a small town with limited lodging and food options, so please plan ahead if want to visit this park. If you need more lodging, food and other amenities, the next largest city is Carlsbad, which is 23 miles from the park. As a side note, because of the oil boom that is happening in the area, hotels in Carlsbad is very expensive, so please do not be shocked if you see a Super 8 going for $200/night.
Closest Cities to the Park:
If you’re flying in to visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park, the closest city to fly into is Carlsbad, which is 23 miles from the park. If you need to fly into a larger city, El Paso, TX, is a little more than 2 hours drive from the park.
Recommended Length Stay: At least 2-3 days to explores caves and trails outside Carlsbad Caverns.
Would we be back? Definitely yes when we’re in the area, this is our favorite cave!
There’s no lodging in Carlsbad National Park, only backcountry camping.
Pets are not allowed in the cavern but there is a kernel at the visitor center.
For your safety please wear low-heeled and non-skid shoes because the caves can be steep and slippery. Bring a jacket or sweater to keep warm because the cave is at a constant 56° F.
Stay on trails to prevent falling into steep drop-offs. Bring a flashlight because there are unlighted passages that you can get lost in. Lastly, use handrails when available.
You can bring a tri-pod if you do a self-guided tour. If you attend a tour, tri-pods are not allowed as it slows down the group.
For more photos, click here.