The image features the interior of a cave with numerous stalactites hanging from the ceiling and stalagmites rising from the ground, all illuminated by a warm, yellow light. The intricate formations create a dramatic and otherworldly atmosphere, highlighting the natural beauty and complexity of the cave's geology.

Visiting Carlsbad Caverns National Park: The Complete Guide for 2024

Deep beneath the rugged terrain of the Chihuahuan Desert lies a world of wonder waiting to be explored at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Known for its stunning limestone formations and vast underground chambers, this remarkable park offers a subterranean adventure. From navigating the park’s extensive cave systems to discovering its unique geology and vibrant history, we’ll help you make the most of your visit to this captivating underground marvel.

If you are planning a trip to Carlsbad Caverns National Park and need some help planning your trip, this is our starter guide for visiting Carlsbad Caverns National Park. We often have detailed, in-depth guides to Carlsbad Caverns National Park trip planning and will link to these where appropriate to make your trip planning as easy as possible.

The article will discuss all aspects of visiting Carlsbad Caverns National Park, including:

  • Maps of Carlsbad Caverns National Park
  • General Information about Carlsbad Caverns
  • How to Make the Most of Your Visit
  • Best Things to do in Carlsbad Caverns
  • Nearby National Parks

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Table of Contents

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Texas and New Mexico Itineraries

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Articles about Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Itineraries for Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Downloadable Itineraries for Carlsbad Caverns National Park

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Map of Carlsbad Caverns National Park

This map of Carlsbad Caverns National Park showcases the visitor center, cavern entrance, and trails like the Walnut Canyon Desert Drive and Rattlesnake Canyon Trail. The map also includes nearby roads and landmarks such as the Guadalupe Mountains and Lincoln National Forest. ​

Click on the Carlsbad Caverns Map above to download the official brochure map. If you’d like a PDF copy of this Carlsbad Caverns Map click here.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park Basics

  • Region: Southwest / West Coast
  • State: New Mexico
  • Park Size: 46,766 acres (73.07 sq miles) (189.26 sq km)
  • Location: Eddy County
  • Closest Cities: Carlsbad, New Mexico
  • Busy Season: June to July
  • Visitation: 394,121 (in 2023)
  • Funniest 1-Star Review: Unless you find big caves and rocks overwhelmingly fascinating then skip this. Of all the national parks we have visited this is by far the most boring. A walk along dimly lite paths in a huge cave with rocks and pits and pools illuminated BFD. If you have never been inside a cave or seen a picture of a cave this might interest you, otherwise don’t waste your time, energy nor money.
  • Official Website:

How much does Carlsbad Caverns National Park Cost?

Carlsbad Caverns National Park costs the following:

  • Adult Entrance Ticket (over age 16) – $15
  • Children Entrance Ticket (under age 15) – Free

Cave tours are an additional fee and are not covered by the America the Beautiful Pass.

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When is Carlsbad Caverns National Park Open?

Carlsbad Caverns National Park is open year-round.

Are dogs allowed in Carlsbad Caverns National Park?

Yes, pets are welcome in Carlsbad Caverns National Park but access is limited. Pets are not allowed in the cave or off-road. Please review the Carlsbad Caverns Pet Policy before bringing your dog to Carlsbad Caverns. Carlsbad Caverns Trading Company runs a day-use-only kennel service for people traveling with pets who’d like to tour the cave.

  • Pets are not allowed in the cavern, on unpaved park trails on the surface, off road, during the Bat Flight Program, or in the visitor center.
  • Pets need to be on a leash no longer than six feet in length when outside your vehicle.
  • You are not allowed to leave your pet unattended in vehicles. They must be kenneled.
  • Pet etiquette and park regulations require that you always clean up after your pet and dispose of waste in trash receptacles.

Where are Carlsbad Caverns National Park’s visitor centers?

  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park Visitor Center – Open Year Around

Land Acknowledgment

The park now known as Carlsbad Caverns National Park is on Mescalero Apache land.

Thank you to the Native Land Digital for making the Indigenous territories accessible to all. They have mapped the known territories to the best of the current knowledge and is a work in progress. If you have additional information on the Indigenous nations boundaries, please let them know.

Native Land Digital is a registered Canadian not-for-profit organization with the goal to creates spaces where non-Indigenous people can be invited and challenged to learn more about the lands they inhabit, the history of those lands, and how to actively be part of a better future going forward together.

How Much Time Should I Spend Visiting Carlsbad Caverns National Park?

If you have a couple of hours in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, take the Big Room Self-Guided Tour.

If you have one day in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, take the Natural Entrance Tour and attend the Bat Program.

If you have two days in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, take the Left Hand Tunnel Tour and Lower Cave Tour.

If you have three or more days in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, take a wild cave tour or Slaughter Canyon Cave tour or go hiking.

Texas and New Mexico Itineraries

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Things to do in Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Best Cave Tours of Carlsbad Caverns National Park

  • Big Room Trail – 1.25 miles – Self-Guided – Explore an area known as “The Grand Canyon with a roof over it.” This trail has spectacular views, cave formations, and a rope ladder used by early explorers.
  • Natural Entrance Trail – 1.25 miles – Self-Guided – Walk down the STEEP incline to the cave’s natural entrance before exploring the cave. There is a 750 ft elevation change.
  • Left Hand Tunnel Tour – 2 hours – Guided Tour – $7 per person – Explore the cave by lantern like early explorers. This tour goes through Sherwood Forest and the Beach.
  • Lower Cave Tour – 3 hours – Guided Tour – $20 per person – Follow the route of the 1924 National Geographic expedition including visits to the Rookery and Colonel Boles Formation.

Best Things to Do in Carlsbad Caverns National Park

  • Walnut Canyon Desert Drive
  • Bat Flight Program
  • Junior Ranger Badge
  • Walnut Canyon Trail
  • Cave Tour
  • Roadside Trail

Best Things to See in Carlsbad Caverns National Park

  • Rattlesnake Spring
  • Temple of the Sun
  • Rock of Ages
  • Crystal Spring Dome
  • Bottomless Pit
  • Natural Entrance

Best Guided Tours of Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park Wildlife

  • Cave Cricket
  • Big Brown Bat
  • Hoary Bat
  • Silver-Haired Bat
  • Desert Cottontail
  • Collard Peccary
  • Javelina

Where to stamp your National Parks Passport Book in Carlsbad Caverns National Park?

The National Park Passport Book is the BEST and cheapest National Park souvenir. Every National Park Obsessed person should have one of these books.

If you are new to the National Parks, you can learn more about the National Parks Passport program here or jump right in by ordering:

IMPORTANT: Do NOT stamp your government-issued passport.

There are three official stamps for Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Here is the list of National Park Passport Stamps you can get in Carlsbad Caverns National Park:

  • Carlsbad, NM
  • NPS Centennial
  • Passport 25th Anniversary

Bonus Stamps

  • 85 Years of Exploration, Research, & Education
  • Carlsbad with Stalactites and Bats (oval)
  • Carlsbad with Stalactites and Bats (round)
  • Junior Ranger
  • Mailed from 750 feet with border
  • Mailed from 750 feet without border
  • Natural Entrance Centennial

Carlsbad Caverns National Park Passport Stamp Locations

Here are all the locations to find the Carlsbad Caverns National Park Passport Stamps. Not every stamp is available at every location.

  • The concession area near the bottom of the elevator inside the cave
  • Visitor Center Bookstore
  • Visitor Center Information Desk

National Parks Near Carlsbad Caverns National Park

National Park Service units within a 4 hours drive

National Park Service units within an 8 hours drive

  • Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument
  • Amache National Historic Site
  • Amistad National Recreation Area
  • Aztec Ruins National Monument
  • Bandelier National Monument
  • Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site
  • Capulin Volcano National Monument
  • Chaco Culture National Historical Park
  • El Malpais National Monument
  • El Morro National Monument
  • Fort Union National Monument
  • Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
  • Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
  • Lake Meredith National Recreation Area
  • Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park
  • Manhattan Project National Historical Park
  • Pecos National Historical Park
  • Petroglyph National Monument
  • Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River
  • Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument
  • San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
  • Valles Caldera National Preserve
  • Waco Mammoth National Monument
  • Washita Battlefield National Historic Site

Final Thoughts on Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Do you have any questions about Carlsbad Caverns National Park, let us know in the comments below or need help planning your National Park trips. Let me know in the comments or join me in my National Park Trip Planning Community!

Pin for Later: The Complete Guide to Visiting Carlsbad Caverns National Park in 2024

Are you planning a trip to Carlsbad Caverns National Park? Click here for the complete guide to visiting Carlsbad Caverns National Park by a National Park Expert
Hi, I'm Jennifer!

Welcome to the wonderful world of National Parks. I'm here to help you plan your NEXT amazing adventure through the United States National Parks and beyond. I want the national parks to be accessible to all.

I live in Tennessee, and when I'm home, you can find me hiking in the Smokies and the Cumberland Plateau.

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On this site, we promote travel to the United States and beyond that are the traditional lands of  Indigenous and First Nations peoples.

With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to these lands’ past and present people.

To learn more about the people who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.


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