Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Guided tours
Backcountry camping
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

General Day Use Fee


Large cave system. Many geological features.


Can get crowded.


ADA accessible
Geologically significant
Backcountry camping
Flushing toilets
Rock climbing
Picnic tables


Nearby Lodging + Camping

Guadalupe Mountains National Park


Carlsbad definitely drops you into an eerily yet beautiful world completely different from the surface. To view such a large cave system deep under the earth brings a sense of just how big our earth is and just how much is yet to be discovered. The natural entrance is worth the extra hike as you wind down a multitude of switchbacks and get a chance to experience the transition from the top surface to these giant caverns.
This cave is incredible. I took the natural entrance into the cave as the elevators were under repair. I also paid for the King's Palace Tour which was stunning and was glad I could check out the addition rooms of the caverns.
The seemingly endless formations of these caverns are incredible.
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