• Photo of the steep natural entrance of Carlsbad Caverns

    Carlsbad Caverns

    National Park New Mexico

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Off-Season Hours at Carlsbad Caverns

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Date: August 28, 2006
Contact: Bridget Litten, 505.785.3024

Superintendent John Benjamin announced today that Carlsbad Caverns National Park would return to its normal operating hours on Tuesday, September 5. Benjamin noted, “With summer vacation over, kids headed back to school, and much of our summer workforce already gone for the season, we need to adjust our visitor center hours and tour schedule.”

Beginning on September 5, the park’s visitor center will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (MDT) and will continue to offer a variety of self-guided and guided cave tours. The self-guided Natural Entrance route will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The self-guided Big Room route will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The ranger-guided Kings Palace tour will be offered at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily. Tour times are established to allow ample time for visitors to complete their tour before the visitor center closes at 5 p.m.

For visitors wishing a trip off the beaten path, ranger-guided trips are offered in undeveloped areas of Carlsbad Cavern and in other park caves. Flashlight trips through Slaughter Canyon Cave are led on Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. Lantern tours of Left Hand Tunnel are available daily at 9 a.m. Lower Cave tours are offered Monday through Friday at 1 p.m. Two strenuous wild caving trips, Hall of the White Giant and Spider Cave, are offered on Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. respectively.

While reservations are not needed for self-guided tours, reservations are required for all guided tours—reservations can be made by calling 1.800.967. 2283 or visiting http://reservations.nps.gov. Self-guided cave tours are $6 for adults and free for children 15 and under. Anyone under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. There are additional fees for ranger-guided tours—fees range from $7 to $20 for adults and $3.50 to $10 for children depending on the tour.

Evening bat flight programs at the Natural Entrance Amphitheater will continue through mid-October or until the bats migrate to Mexico for the winter. These programs are free and begin around sunset—call 505.785.3012 for the starting time of each evening’s program.

Amenities at the park include a restaurant, a gift shop and a bookstore, as well as picnic sites, exhibits, surface trails and an observation tower. For more information, contact the park at 505.785.2232, or visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/cave/.

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.