National parks are set aside for the enjoyment of all. Because of the rugged nature of many of the nation's treasures, it has been difficult to provide access for everyone who might have special needs. The National Park Service has been making strides to furnish facilities that allow everyone the opportunity to enjoy the beauties of the great outdoors.
The visitor center and a large section of the self-guided Big Room tour are wheelchair-accessible. An outdoor nature trail and picnic sites near the visitor center and at Rattlesnake Springs, are also accessible.
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.
Camping is by permit only. Free permits may be obtained at the visitor center. The permit must be returned to the visitor center or to any ranger at the completion of your trip. Camping is allowed in designated wilderness areas only.
All campsites must be out of sight and sound of established roadways and must be a minimum of .25 mile away from any road or trail. If an area appears to have been used previously as a campsite please relocate to another area to reduce human impact in the backcountry.
See the Camping Page for more details.
Backcountry caves can be hazardous. Entering caves without written permission of the superintendent is prohibited. Conditions for issuing permits vary according to the management classification of each cave.
I recommend that you plan your trip and the areas you would like to see in the cavern or backcountry and then go and relax and make a day of it. Go and see all that is in the area and enjoy it. You spend more quality time and learn and see more than you could ever imagine.
Camping and Fires
Camping is allowed in the backcountry with a free permit. Campfires are not permitted within the park. The use of charcoal, and any wood or plant material for fires is prohibited. Illegal charcoal and wood fires cause unacceptable impacts in the backcountry. Containerized fuel stoves may be used at campsites.
For Camping information, Click Here.
|Big Room||1.0 hour, 1.0 mile||The Big Room is the "must see" tour for all visitors to Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Access this self guided walk either by elevator or by walking the Natural Entrance route. The Big Room route is also partially accessible to people using wheelchairs, with assistance. Ask for an access guide.|
|Natural Entrance||1.0 hour, 1.0 mile||On this self guided route you will descend over 750 feet on a steep and narrow switchback trail. This self guided walk is strenuous, and not recommended for anyone with health or walking problems. Return by elevator, or continue on to the Big Room.|
|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.
For additional activities information, please see the Calendar Page.
|Adults (age 16 and over)||$ 6.00|
|Children - ages 6 to 15||$ 3.00|
|Children - ages 5 and under||Free|
No Reservations are needed to Enter Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Guided tours require an additional fee. All fees are subject to change at any time.Reservations are recommended for cave tours, call: 1-800-967-2283.
Food and Supplies
A restaurant is located at the visitor center and a Lunchroom is located in the cavern by the elevator. You can always bring your own food as there are picnic areas. There are restaurants in the local communities listed above.
There is no lodging in Carlsbad Cavern National Park other than backcountry camping.
See the Lodging Page and the Camping Page for details.
Pets are not allowed in the cavern. There is a kennel at the visitor center.
There are three picnic areas in the park.
Walnut Creek and near the visitor center there are picnic tables.
Rattlesnake Springs has tables, grills, drinking water and restrooms.
Programs and Activities
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.
Safety in the Cave
To ensure that your tour of Carlsbad Cavern is a comfortable, enjoyable and safe one, you are asked to follow some important rules and recommendations.
Wear low-heeled, non-skid shoes for walking on the paved cave trails, which are sometimes steep and slippery. Use handrails where available. Take along a jacket or sweater to keep warm in the constant cool 56° F temperature of the cave. Stay on trails. Beyond the trails are steep drop offs where you could fall and injure yourself. There are also unlighted passages where you could get lost. Also, fragile formations on the floor, walls and ceiling can be damaged by persons straying from the trails.
There is only one visitor center and it is open all year except for Christmas Day.
Open: Year round
Located: Just inside the park
8:00 am to 7:00 pm daily - Summer Hours
8:00 am to 5:30 pm daily - Non-summer Hours
In the visitor center there are exhibits on bats, geology, history, Lechuguilla Cave, books, brochures, topographic maps, exhibits (including a three dimensional model of Carlsbad Cavern), park activity schedules, information and cave tours as well as restrooms and water are all available. There is also a restaurant, gift shop and kennel available at the visitor center. Just outside the visitor center there are limited picnic facilities.
The park's climate is characterized by warm summers and mild winters. In the summer, average highs are in the 90°s F. In the winter the average highs are in the 50°s and 60°s F. Intense thunderstorms occur in the summer, posing the danger of lighting in higher areas and of flash floods in low lying areas.
The cave climate is cool and varies little from the annual 56° F (13° C) average. A light jacket or sweater, and comfortable shoes with rubber soles for good traction are appropriate year-round. See the Weather Page for current weather and other weather data.
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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