Carlsbad Caverns is part of the Lechuguilla Cave system, which one of the largest in the world. Carlsbad Caverns National Park consists of over 119 caves and a lower level that has been mapped to a depth of 1,600 feet.
You can enter the cave through the Natural Entrance Hike or via the elevators. The Natural Entrance Hike is a strenuous 1.25-mile trek with an elevation change of 750 feet each way. Both the Natural Entrance Hike and the elevators end up in the Big Room, where you have the option to explore further or take a break in the lunch room. The Big Room Hike is a relatively easy 1.25-mile trail that loops through the main chambers and accessible areas of the cave system. There are also several ranger-led tours of varying difficulty and length. Some, such as the Spider Cave Tour, include climbing and crawling through small spaces.
Approximately 250 million years ago, Carlsbad Caverns and the surrounding area was the coastline of an inland sea. Scientists have found evidence of fossilized reefs from the Permian Period in the caverns. The park is also home to countless geological formations including stalagmites, columns, soda straws, draperies, and popcorn.
There are 17 species of bats that live in the park. The Brazilian free-tailed bats can be seen seasonally from April through November. The park hosts free bat flight programs, during which visitors see the bats emerge from the cave at sunset to look for food.