|Bat Flight||Cave Tours||General Information|
|Nature Trail||Rattlesnake Spring||Scenic Drive||The Cave|
There are a number of things to do while enjoying Carlsbad Caverns National park. These activities include but are not limited to birding, camping, cave exploring, hiking, photography, watching the bat flight, and wildlife watching.
Join a National Park Service ranger to explore Carlsbad Caverns's natural and cultural history. Join a ranger to learn about the forces that once shaped this landscape - and continue to do so, see the Calendar Page. Ranger / Naturalist programs include scheduled talks. Programs are provided by park naturalists year-round. These are just some of the ways to discover the diversity of the scenic, natural and historic wonders that comprise Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
Birds and bats migrate to and through Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Ask a ranger about the best birding spots during your stay in the park.
The Bat Flight
The evening flight of the bats of Carlsbad Cavern is a natural phenomenon as fascinating as the cave itself. In a mass exodus at dusk, thousands of Mexican Freetail bats fly from the cave for a night of feasting on insects. The spectacle can be viewed from the outdoor amphitheater at the cave's natural entrance. Before each flight a park ranger give a short talk on bats. Check at the visitor center for the scheduled time. Because the bats winter in Mexico, the flights occur only from early spring through October.
The Cave - A Journey Underground
Your encounter with Carlsbad Caverns National Park begins in the Chihuahuan Desert of the Guadalupe Mountains. But beyond the somewhat familiar surroundings of rugged mountains and broad plains is another world. Away from the sunlight, away from the flowering cactus, away from the songs of the desert birds and the howl of the coyote, lies the celebrated underground world of Carlsbad Cavern. It is an incomparable realm of gigantic subterranean chambers, fantastic cave formations and extraordinary features. The first adventurers entering Carlsbad Cavern had no idea what to expect as they walked, crawled and climbed down into the darkness. Today many of the wonders of Carlsbad Cavern are well known, yet the experience of exploring its chambers is every bit as exciting.
Cave tour routes wind through the chambers of Carlsbad Cavern. Only a part of the cave can be viewed on public tours. Beyond these passages are more underground rooms, many of them just as exquisitely decorated. Altogether more than 30 miles of caves have been explored. The deepest chamber is 1,027 feet below the surface.
Exploring the Cave
Visitors wishing to explore Carlsbad Caverns may select from three main tour options depending on their time, interests and physical ability. Two of these options follow self guiding routes, the third is a ranger guided tour.
Your first stop for any cave tour is the visitor center information desk, where rangers can answer tour questions and you may purchase tickets. The basic entry fee allows access to either, or both self guiding tour routes. Rangers at the information desk can provide current information on special ranger activities, and they can tell you about wild cave tours that may be available, staff permitting.
Big Room Route
The basic tour through Carlsbad Cavern is the Big Room Route, a one mile, self guiding, underground stroll around the perimeter of the largest room in the cave, the Big Room. Taking approximately one hour, this circular route passes many large and famous features including Bottomless Pit, Giant Dome, Rock of Ages and Painted Grotto. Highly decorated and immense, the 14 acre Big Room is a "must see" tour for all visitors to the park. Access to the Big Room is provided by elevators located in the visitor center. The relatively level and well lighted trails make this the ideal tour for visitors with limited time or walking difficulties. The Big Room is accessible to wheelchairs, with a special map available at the visitor center information desk.
See the Cave Tours for more cave tours, with information and prices.
Natural Entrance Route
The Natural Entrance route is a self guiding tour available to visitors with plenty of time and in good physical condition. This one mile tour follows the traditional explorer's route, entering the cavern through the large historic natural entrance. The Natural Entrance route descends more than 750 feet into the earth following steep and narrow trails through a tall and spacious trunk passage call the Main Corridor. The route culminates in the underground rest area, near the elevators and the Big Room route starting point. Visitors in good health who plan to take both self guiding tours may enjoy starting with the Natural Entrance route. Highlights along this route include Bat Cave, Devil's Spring, Green Lake Overlook and the Boneyard, a complex maze of highly-dissolved limestone rock reminiscent of swiss cheese. Visitors should watch for Iceberg Rock, a single 200,000 ton boulder that fell from the cave ceiling thousands of years ago.
See the Cave Tours for more cave tours, with information and prices.
|Guided Tour||Adult Fee||Children & Golden Age Fee||Tour Schedule|
|Hall of White Giant||$ 20.00||$ 10.00||Sat - 1:00 pm|
|Kings Palace||$ 8.00||$ 4.00||Daily|
|Left Hand Tunnel||$ 7.00||$ 3.50||Daily 9:00 am|
|Lower Cave||$ 20.00||$ 10.00||Mon - Fri - 1:00 pm|
|Slaughter Canyon Cave||$ 15.00||$ 7.50||Daily in Summer
8:00 am - 11:00 am
|Spider Cave||$ 20.00||$ 10.00||Sun - 1:00 pm|
|Cave||Day||Start Time||Adult Fee||Age Limit||Rating||Length Hours||Group Limit|
|Hall of the White Giant||Sat||1:00 pm||$ 20.00||12||Strenuous||3 - 4||8|
|Kings Palace||Daily||$ 8.00||4||1.5|
|Left Hand Tunnel||Daily||9:00 am||$ 7.00||6||Easy||1.5 - 2||15|
|Lower Cave||Mon - Fri||1:00 pm||$ 20.00||12||Mod - Strenuous||2 - 3||12|
|Slaughter Canyon Cave||Daily||8:00 am
|$ 15.00||6||Strenuous||2 - 2.5||25|
|Spider Cave||Sun||1:00 pm||$ 20.00||12||Strenuous||3 - 4||8|
Fee for youth 16 years of age and younger is half price. Those holding a Golden Age Pass are half price.
Slaughter Canyon Cave tour is offered daily from Memorial Day weekend until the third Sunday in Aug. At other times, the tour is offered only on weekends.
All caving tours except the Slaughter Canyon Cave depart from the visitor center lobby. Youth under 16 years of age, must be accompanied by an adult. Tours, times and fees are subject to change. Call: 505-785-2232 extension 0, for current information.
Hall of the White Giant
This is a strenuous, challenging tour to a remote chamber in Carlsbad Caverns. You will be required to crawl long distances, squeeze through tight crevices and climb up slippery flowstone-lined passages. Bring your own gloves, knee pads and four new AA batteries.
Kings Palace Guided Tour
A third option is the Kings Palace tour, a 1.5 hour ranger guided tour through four highly decorated scenic chambers. Departing from the underground rest area, the Kings Palace tour descends to the deepest portion of the cavern open to the public, 830 feet beneath the desert surface. Although not as difficult as the Natural Entrance route, the one mile tour does require descending and later climbing an eight story hill. Look forward to viewing a variety of speleothems or cave decorations including helectites, draperies, columns and soda straws. Rangers frequently conduct black-out programs during this tour, briefly turning off all artificial lights to reveal the permanent inky blackness of the natural cave environment. Reservations required for the Kings Palace Tour may be obtained at the information desk. A separate fee is charged for this tour.
All trails in the cave are paved and adequately lighted. Visitors should wear comfortable, closed toe shoes with rubber soles for maximum safety and traction. The cave temperature varies little from the annual 56° F average, making a sweater or light jacket appropriate year round. Visitors may also wish to bring a camera and a flashlight. Strollers are Not Allowed in any underground cave areas, but infant backpacks are permitted. A pre-tour restroom stop is advisable because restrooms are only available in the visitor center and underground rest area. All tours are preceded by a mandatory cavern orientation briefing to promote resource protection and cavern safety. Visitors on all tours exit the cave by elevator.
Rangers are available throughout the cave to assist visitors with information, answer questions and protect park resources. On both self guiding tours, "Cavern Guide" message players provide visitors with interesting, in-depth information about ecology, history and cave information.
Left Hand Tunnel
On this tour your guide will highlight cavern history, formations, cave pools and Permian Age fossils. Lanterns are provided.
You will see evidence of early exploration, cave pools and beautiful formations on this moderately- strenuous tour. Be prepared to descend 50 feet of ladders. Bring gloves and four new AA batteries per person.
Slaughter Canyon Cave
Slaughter Canyon Cave is 23 miles from the park visitor center. The turnoff for Slaughter Canyon is located 5 miles south of Whites City on Highway 62/180. Follow the signs from there to the Slaughter Canyon trailhead. Allow 45 minutes for the steep and strenuous .5 mile hike to the cave entrance. Attempt this hike only if you are in good physical condition. Carry water - the desert is dry and often has extreme weather. Stay on the trail at all times and wear sturdy boots or shoes. Transportation to the cave is not provided.
Ranger led tours of Slaughter Canyon Cave take you into an underground wilderness without electricity, paved walkways or modern conveniences. In this wild cave, darkness is broken only by the light of lanterns carried by rangers and flashlights carried by tour members. Highlights of the two hour, 1.25 mile tour are the 89 foot high Monarch, one of the world's tallest columns; the sparkling, crystal-decorated Christmas Tree column; and the Chinese Wall, a delicate, ankle-high rimstone dam. Old bat guano mining excavations can be seen. Tours are given daily in the summer and on weekends the rest of the year. A fee is charged. Reservations must be made at the visitor center or by calling the park. You have to hike a strenuous .5 mile trail to the cave entrance, where the tour begins. Sturdy walking shoes, flashlights and water are required.
The cavern is open daily except of Christmas Day and operates on summer and non-summer hourly schedules. The summer season runs from Memorial Day weekend through the third Sunday in August. For current hours and information, call the park before your visit at 505-785-2232 extension 0, or extension 429 for cave tour reservations.
Driving from the Carlsbad Visitor Center to Slaughter Canyon takes about 45 minutes (23 miles).
Driving from Carlsbad, New Mexico to Slaughter Canyon takes about one hour (36 miles).
Driving from El Paso, Texas to Slaughter Canyon takes about 3 hours (150 miles).
On this strenuous caving tour you can expect tight crawlways, canyon-like passages and many bizarre formations. Bring your own gloves, knee pads and four new AA batteries per person. The tour departs from the visitor center for a .5 mile hike to the cave. Bring water for the hike.
The 9.5 mile Walnut Canyon Desert Drive is a gravel, one-way loop through dramatic desert mountain scenery. Passenger cars can travel the road easily, but the narrow, twisting route is not recommended for trailers or motor homes. A guide booklet is available at the visitor center.Slaughter Canyon Cave
This one mile paved partially accessible trail begins at the visitor center and highlights desert plants.
This historic oasis is the source of the park's water and includes a picnic area, shade trees, restrooms and excellent bird watching. Day use only.
Activity & Calendar Page
Address, Email & Phone Guide
Brochures, Maps, Written Info
Jobs, SCA, Volunteer Positions
Safety in the Caves
Size and Visitation Info
Slaughter Canyon Cave
The Bat Flight
The World of Bats
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