- Website Link: Carlsbad Caverns
- Basic Entrance Fee: $12.00 per person. Kids 15 and under are admitted free. (Baby strollers are not allowed.)
- Parts of the Big Room Trail are wheelchair accessible.
- Ranger guided tours are available for additional fees.
- Tours of other caves are available for additional fees, and reservations may be required.
- Hours vary depending on the season. Check the above website for information.
- Cafeteria available in visitor center. Snack bar located in the cavern.
- Hotels and restaurants available in the city of Carlsbad, New Mexico.
- RV/tent camping available in White’s City, the city of Carlsbad, and on BLM lands near the park. Backcountry camping requires a permit. Check the website for additional information.
- When to go: anytime.
Located 75 stories beneath the New Mexico desert, lies a dark and magical place like no other. Stalagmites, stalactites, domes, totems, mirror-like pools, and even chandeliers make for breathtaking sights (and exceptional photo ops) on your journey through the caverns. Walk in to the cavern via the natural entrance if you are up for the challenge, or take the speedy new elevator to the entrance of the Big Room. The Big Room Trail is a little over a mile long, and it is definitely worth every step. Plan to spend at least two hours enjoying the trail.
Travel tip: the temperature in the cave is a constant 56 degrees, so a light jacket is recommended, along with sturdy walking shoes with non-slip soles. For those who tend to be claustrophobic, don’t worry – this place is huge!
Carlsbad Caverns National Park is approximately:
150 miles from El Paso, Texas — 200 miles from Lubbock, Texas — 300 miles from Albuquerque, New Mexico
El Paso is the closest city with a major airport so our trip will start from there.
⇒From El Paso, take US Highway 62/180 East toward Carlsbad, New Mexico. Drive time between El Paso and Carlsbad Caverns: 2.25 hours and 2.5 hours to the city of Carlsbad.
Travel tip: fill up with gas, use the restroom, and stock a few drinks and snacks before leaving El Paso. Services are very minimal along this road. Watch for the salt flats and beautiful mountain peaks of Guadalupe Mountains National Park along the way.
*Recommended campground in Carlsbad: Carlsbad KOA Holiday, located north of town, and approximately 40 minutes from the park.
*Recommended hotel in Carlsbad: Holiday Inn Express.
Destination: Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Below are some of the sights along the Big Room Trail. We will let the pictures speak for themselves.
Most people visit Carlsbad Caverns to see the caves, but the park offers so much more, such as:
- an amphitheater from which to watch thousands of bats come out at night during the months of May through October.
- a scenic desert drive.
- ranger led cave tours and night sky programs.
- picnic areas.
- hiking trails.
- shopping, exhibits, and a nature walk at the visitor center.
About five miles south of White’s City, there is a turn off on Highway 418 to a separate little sliver of the park called Rattlesnake Springs. This is a day use area, mainly for picnicking. Along the same road, there is a BLM property called Cottonwood Picnic Area. This is a great place to stop for lunch, and just east of the picnic area there is a short nature trail that leads to the Black River. We were thrilled to find this hidden gem.
Travel tip: Carlsbad Caverns National Park is located in a desert. Spring, summer, and fall temperatures can be high, and the air is usually dry. Always prepare for the weather and bring along plenty of water.
Other things to do in the area include:
- Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park. Here’s a link: Living Desert. (Carlsbad)
- Brantley Lake State Park. Water sports, RV and tent camping. Here’s a link: Brantley Lake. (Carlsbad)
- Lake Carlsbad Beach Park. Water sports, playground, swimming, fishing, just to name a few, in addition to miles of walker-friendly sidewalks! (Carlsbad)
- Guadalupe Mountains National Park. One hour south of Carlsbad, and 30 minutes south of Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
- Sitting Bull Falls. One hour southwest of Carlsbad in the Lincoln National Forest.
We hope that our overview of Carlsbad Caverns National Park inspires you to grab your camera, hop in the car, and head that way. The caverns are certainly more beautiful than the pictures portray, and this is another park that we think everyone should get to see at least once. Until the next trip…
Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.
Mike and Kellye
As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.