• Photo of the steep natural entrance of Carlsbad Caverns

    Carlsbad Caverns

    National Park New Mexico

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  • Cave Lighting Project

    We are undergoing a year-long lighting project in the cavern. Please be aware of caution tape along pathways inside the cave and use due care.

MLK, Jr. Weekend Entry Free into Carlsbad Cavern, Plus New Free Lantern Tours Added

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Date: January 5, 2012

Beginning January 14 through Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on January 16, the general entry fee will be waived at Carlsbad Caverns National Park and all National Park sites across the country. At Carlsbad Caverns, the general entry fee includes the Natural Entrance and Big Room routes. Fees for audio guides and ranger guided tours will still apply.

January 14 through 16 are the first of 17 days in 2012 that National Park Service areas will waive entrance fees. The other days are: April 21 - 29 (National Park Week), June 9 (Get Outdoors Day), September 19 (National Public Lands Day), and November 10-12 (Veterans Day weekend).

"Anyone looking for an inexpensive activity that is sure to provide lasting memories can't go wrong visiting national parks, especially on these 'fee-free' days," said Carlsbad Caverns National Park Superintendent John Benjamin. "Throughout the year, park rangers are giving talks, children's activities, and demonstrations at no cost to the visitors. And, every week, I read comment forms, emails, and letters from visitors raving about their experiences and how fun, exciting and unforgettable they are."

A new ranger guided tour has been added to the cave tour schedule. Daily, as staffing permits, from 2:30 - 4:30 p.m., park rangers lead a guided tour along the Natural Entrance route. Candle lanterns provide the only light for this tour that descends a steep, 1 ¼ mile, paved trail. Tour size is limited to 15; all ages are welcome. Tickets are required and are distributed for free at the ticket counter, first-come, first-served.

Carlsbad Caverns visitor center and cave hours vary from winter to summer. For more information about open hours, cave tours, and other activities, call 575-785-2232 or visit www.nps.gov/cave.

Did You Know?

Soda straws in Carlsbad Cavern.

Most of the formations—or speleothems—found inside Carlsbad Cavern today were active and growing during the last ice age when instead of having a desert above the cave, there were pine forests.