Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

Late last year we took my daughter and her cousins to the famous Carlsbad Caverns. We rented the electronic audio tour and opted to follow the natural entrance into the caves. We passed by the amphitheater seating where visitors can sit to watch the bats emerge from the cave at dusk. The bat flight program is open Memorial Day through mid-October. Don’t expect to come and get pictures of the bats…no cameras are allowed during bat flight. Having come late in the year we did not get to see the bats leaving the cave. We did, however, see many cave swallows flying in and out of the entrance.

 Amphitheater for bat viewing
Anyone who visits Carlsbad has the option to enter the cave in two ways. One is by the elevators that were installed in1955. The other is the Natural Entrance. Following the long, paved, switchbacks deep into the mouth of the cave via the Natural Entrance is a rewarding experience and the only way to see the cave in my opinion. The twilight zone (that is the zone between the farthest reaches of natural light, and total darkness) is truly a unique sight worthy of the time it takes to enter through the natural entrance. 

Looking down into the Natural Entrance
looking back up out of the natural entrance

Most of the rest of the cave is pretty typical. The Big Room features some of the largest most impressive formations and can be toured separately from the natural entrance. I was unable to photograph many of the features in the cave due to the low light levels.

 Lion’s Tail formation

The Park requires everyone to exit by the elevators making this underground hike quite easy. It’s all downhill. Be sure to wear good walking shoes with lots of grip. The cave is a very damp place and the trail can be steep and slippery when wet. There are many other options available at Carlsbad Caverns including, spelunking, primitive cave tours, and surface hikes. If you want something other than the mainstream cave tour, I recommend the Slaughter Canyon Primitive Cave tour.

1 thought on “Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico”

  1. Thanks for sharing this post! I now have another place added to my "Must Visit" list. The only caves that I have ever been in are the Ape Caves near Mount St. Helens. I wrote a post/video on them last summer when we headed over there. You got some great pictures.

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