• Photo of the steep natural entrance of Carlsbad Caverns

    Carlsbad Caverns

    National Park New Mexico

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  • Scenic Loop Road Closed

    The 9-mile scenic Loop Road (Desert Drive) is closed due to flood damage. The road will reopen as soon as repairs are done. This scenic road does not affect access to the visitor center or the cave.

  • All Camping & Backcountry Caving Suspended Until Further Notice

    All camping and backcountry/recreational caving in the park has been suspended until further notice due to flood damage on backcountry roads and trails.

History & Culture

As an early visitor to Carlsbad Cavern, you might have had to enter the cave via an old guano mining bucket.
As an early visitor to Carlsbad Cavern, you might have had to enter the cave inside an old guano mining bucket.
NPS Photo

The park's cultural resources represent a long and varied continuum of human use starting in prehistoric times, and illustrating many adaptations to the Chihuahuan Desert environment. Human activities, including prehistoric and historic American Indian occupations, European exploration and settlement, industrial exploitation, commercial and cavern accessibility development and tourism have each left reminders of their presence, and have contributed to the rich and diverse history of the area.

The park has two historic districts on the National Register of Historic Places - the Cavern Historic District and the Rattlesnake Springs Historic District. The park museum, including the park archives, contains approximately 1,000,000 cultural resource artifacts that are being preserved and protected for future generations.

Additional information on the park's history and culture can be found here.

Legislative History
October 25, 1923 - Creation of Carlsbad Cave National Monument
April 2, 1924 - Executive Order
May 3, 1928 - Supplemental Executive Order
May 14, 1930 - Creation of Carlsbad Caverns National Park
June 17, 1930 - Executive Order

Caverns' Chronology
Carlsbad Cavern is one of over 300 limestone caves in a fossil reef laid down by an inland sea 250 to 280 million years ago. Twelve to fourteen thousand years ago, American Indians lived in the Guadalupe Mountains; some of their cooking ring sites and pictographs have been found within the present day boundaries of the park. By the 1500s, Spanish explorers were passing through present-day west Texas and southeastern New Mexico. Spain claimed the southwest until 1821 when Mexico revolted and claimed independence. Mexico, fighting the westward expansionist United States in the late 1840s, lost the southwest to the US. In 1850, New Mexico Territory was created, and for the next 30 years the cultural conflict between American Indians and the US government continued. Eddy, New Mexico, the future Carlsbad, was established in 1888 and New Mexico became a state in 1912. more...

Did You Know?

The natural entrance of Carlsbad Cavern.

In 2003, a park employee found a piece of a stone scraper within view of Carlsbad Cavern's entrance that goes back to Ice Age Indian hunters. In 2004, archeologists found fragments of two spear points of the Midland-style Paleo Indian projectile points of some 10,000 years ago.