• Photo of the steep natural entrance of Carlsbad Caverns

    Carlsbad Caverns

    National Park New Mexico

Caverns' Celebration of Stars and Bats is Just Around the Corner

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Date: June 30, 2006
Contact: Bridget Litten, 505.785.3024

In less than a month, Carlsbad Caverns National Park will host a celebration of stars and bats at the 2nd annual Celebration of the Night and 49th annual Bat Flight Breakfast.

This year’s Celebration of the Night star party will begin the evening of July 28 and continue into the early morning hours of July 29. The Bat Flight Breakfast follows the star party, beginning at 5 a.m., Saturday morning.

Activities will begin at dusk, on Friday, July 28, with opening ceremonies for the city of Carlsbad’s BatFest! at the Bat Flight program, where visitors watch as hundreds of thousands of Brazilian (more commonly known as Mexican) free-tailed bats exit Carlsbad Cavern in their nightly search for dinner. What do they eat? Insects, and a lot of them—the bat colony is capable of eating tons of insects a night.

The Celebration of the Night begins at 9:30 p.m., following the Bat Flight program, with a presentation by noted astronomer Alan Hale, who co-discovered the Hale-Bopp comet in 1995. As the evening progresses, visitors will have opportunities to tour the night sky and view deep sky objects through large telescopes and giant binoculars. Telescopes will be provided; however, visitors may bring their own telescopes, binoculars, flashlights and lawn chairs. Star party programming continues until 3 a.m., just in time for a nature walk before an early-morning breakfast.

The Bat Flight Breakfast began in the late 1950s as a way to encourage visitors to see the bats’ spectacular morning return flight. Unlike the shorter nighttime exodus out of the cave when the bats spiral up and leave the cave en masse, the sunrise return to the cave normally spans several hours. When the bats fly back into the cave, they circle several hundred feet above the entrance and then dive into the cave in small clusters. The sound of wind rushing past the bats’ wings as they do this is something not heard as they exit the cave in the evening.

The breakfast—$7 for adults and $3 for children age 12 and under—includes cereal; ham, turkey and cheese croissants; yogurt and fruit; and juice, milk and coffee. The price includes free entrance to the self-guided portions of Carlsbad Cavern. Tickets for the Bat Flight Breakfast may be purchased during the star party or at the breakfast.

Overnight camping will be allowed; however, space is extremely limited. Tent and car campers will be limited to two parking spaces and all vehicles will be limited to a 35-foot-length, including vehicles in tow.

For the weekend’s activities, the National Park Service has partnered with Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park, BatFest! International, Carlsbad Caverns Activity Association and Cavern Supply Company.

Reservations are not accepted for the star party or the Bat Flight Breakfast. Astronomers planning to bring telescopes or other equipment to the star party should contact Shannan Marcak at 505.785.3134.

For Bat Flight Breakfast information, contact Avelina Childress at 505.785.3124 or Bridget Litten at 505.785.3024, or visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/cave/.

For more information on BatFest!, contact Meg Milligan at 505.885.9041 or visit www.batfest.org.

Did You Know?

Permian ocean bottom.

The limestone rock that holds Carlsbad Cavern is full of ocean fossil plants and animals from a time before the dinosaurs when the southeastern corner of New Mexico was a coastline similar to the Florida Keys.