Carlsbad Caverns National Park
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First discovered by a curious teenager in 1898, Carlsbad Cavern is an incredible underground limestone cave in the Guadalupe Mountains of southeastern New Mexico, just north of the Texas border. The national park contains over 119 limestone caves surrounded by the vast beauty of the Chihuahuan Desert. Each year, about 410,000 people visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park to see the fossilized caverns or spot the thousands of Brazilian free-tailed bats that inhabit the park. Several hiking trails and a picnic area are also available for visitors.
Weather at the park can be quite hot during the day, but don’t be deceived. The temperature inside Carlsbad Cavern is a consistent 56 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year, giving visitors a chance to cool off - so be sure to bring a jacket along with you! In the summers, temperatures can rise into the 90s and sometimes into the low 100s before cooling off to temps in the low 60s at night. Fall brings pleasant temperatures in the 70s during the day and lows that drop from the high 50s in September all the way down to the high 30s in November. Winters at the park are fairly mild, ranging from highs in the mid-50s to lows typically no colder than the low 30s. One of the best times to visit the park is during the spring, when temperatures warm up to the 60s and 70s during the day.
The closest nearby town is Whites City, which is just outside the park’s entrance. Other cities in the area include Carlsbad, Loving, and Artesia. Some travelers may also choose to stay in or visit one of the tiny Texas towns outside the park, such as Pine Springs or Orla. And for those interested in extraterrestrial life, the town of Roswell, where a UFO supposedly crashed in 1947, is about an hour and a half north of the park.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park has a number of regularly scheduled events throughout the year, including the popular bat flight program. Every night at 6:30 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend through October, visitors are invited to watch the park’s Brazilian free-tailed bats fly from the cavern at sunset. A park ranger guides the tour, which is free and available without reservations, although no cell phones, cameras, or other electronic devices are permitted. During certain times of the year, you can also reserve a spot for the guided star walks and moon hikes after the bat flight program. These free hikes are designed for stargazing and are first come, first serve with a maximum of 25 participants.
- Spring 60-70s F
- Summer 80-100 F
- Fall 50-70s F
- Winter 30-50s F
- Coming soon
- Carlsbad Caverns National Park Enterance Pass: $12
RV Rentals Near Carlsbad Caverns National Park
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Carlsbad Caverns National Park Hiking Trails
Because most of the park consists of a desert landscape, opportunities for hiking at Carlsbad Caverns National Park are somewhat more limited than at other national parks. That being said, there are still a handful of trails for those of us who just can’t imagine a trip to a national park without including a hike or two. Here are some of the trails available around and outside of the caverns.
Trails at Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Things to do Outside Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Once you’ve explored Carlsbad Caverns, there’s still plenty of things for you to do outside of the park. Whether you’re looking for a great meal, some local shopping, a unique museum, or even more sightseeing, you’ll find it in this beautiful area of southeast New Mexico. If you need some suggestions, here are a few of our favorite things to do near Carlsbad Caverns.
RV Resorts & Campsites in Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Unlike many national parks, Carlsbad Caverns National Park offers no overnight campgrounds or lodging. Some visitors choose to take advantage of the park’s primitive campsites, which are available in the backcountry by permit only. No vehicles, pets, open fires, or bikes are allowed in the area, and the maximum stay for the sites is seven days.
More likely, though, you’ll want to stay at one of the area’s nearby private campgrounds. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Campgrounds Near Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Find the Best Dumpstations Near Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Dumpstations Near Carlsbad Caverns National Park
How to get to Carlsbad Caverns National Park
You may also be interested in arriving by RV. RV camping allows you to bring all the comforts of home with you while you explore the park and the rest of southeast New Mexico. RV rentals are available all over the country, so it’s easy to find a rental no matter if you’re looking to drive from home or simply pick up the keys when you get there. Whether you prefer a larger motorhome, a tow-behind trailer, or a small pop-up camper, there’s definitely an RV out there to suit your needs.
Just as a reminder, there’s no overnight RV camping at Carlsbad Caverns National Park, so you’ll need to make reservations at one of the private campgrounds mentioned above. However, the park does have plenty of RV parking available during the daytime in the front visitor center parking lot.
For those coming in by vehicle, the Carlsbad Caverns Highway is the only road to access the park. The seven-mile access road is right off of U.S. Highway 62/180 in Whites City. For best results, plug the park’s address -- 727 Carlsbad Caverns Highway, Carlsbad, New Mexico, 88220 -- into your GPS or phone.
If you plan on flying to the park, the two closest airports are in Roswell, New Mexico or El Paso, Texas. The Roswell International Air Center, which is about a 1.5-hour drive to the park, is serviced by American Airlines via Phoenix and Dallas-Fort Worth. Driving from the larger El Paso International Airport to the park takes about 2 hours and 10 minutes but offers more options for flights. The El Paso airport is serviced by Allegiant, American Airlines, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, and United. Car rentals are available at both airports.
Frequently Asked Questions
Carlsbad Caverns National Park is 73.07 square miles or 46,766 acres. Of that, more than 33,000 acres are designated wilderness. The park also encompasses more than 100 caves.
No, Carlsbad Caverns National Park does not have any campgrounds or overnight lodging. However,, there are a number of campgrounds outside the park that accommodate RVs and trailers.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park has accessible parking, dining, picnicking, and an accessible visitor center. The park also has elevator service into and out of the cavern, and the Big Room Trail is a wheelchair-accessible trail in the cavern.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park has mild winters and warm summers. Occasionally the park can get snow, but that's a rare occurrence. Inside the cavern, the temperature generally stays around 56ºF year-round.
Although pets are allowed in certain areas of Carlsbad Caverns National Park, it can be hard to properly explore the park with them. Pets are not allowed in the cavern, on unpaved trails on the surface, during the Bat Flight Program, or in the visitor center. There is a kennel at the park where you can leave your pet during the day. The kennel does not allow overnight stays.
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