• 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.

Backcountry Permits

Camping at Carlsbad Caverns National Park is permitted only in the backcountry. All backcountry users are required to obtain a free backcountry use permit at the Visitor Center.

Backcountry camping permit Terms and Conditions:

  • Backcountry camping is only allowed west of Rattlesnake Canyon trailhead off the Desert Scenic Loop Road and south of the Guadalupe Ridge Trail to the park boundary for approximately two miles, after which camping is allowed both north and south of the trail.
  • Campsites must be located at least 100 feet off established trails, 300 feet from any water source or cave entrance and a half mile or 2,600 feet from any road or parking lot.
  • Backcountry camping groups are limited to 10 people. Larger groups must hike and camp at least one-quarter mile apart in separate areas.
  • The permit holder must be 18 years of age or older.
  • The maximum stay is seven consecutive nights.
  • Vehicle or RV camping is prohibited. Camping is not allowed in any other area, including along any roads, in any parking lot or trailhead.

A few other things to keep in mind:

  • Do not disturb or collect any plants, animals, minerals, or cultural artifacts.
  • Entering backcountry caves without written permission of the Superintendent is prohibited.
  • Saddle and stock use is permitted, in designated areas, under special rules and regulations. Advance arrangements are required.
  • Please report all accidents, fires, injuries, lost persons, or other emergencies to a park ranger.
  • Mountain bikes and motorized vehicles are prohibited on all park trails.
  • Lock your vehicle and take valuable items with you.

Did You Know?

Jim White in Carlsbad Cavern.

Jim White is the cowboy credited with being the premier explorer of Carlsbad Cavern. He began to explore the cave as a teenager in 1898, using a handmade wire ladder to decend 60 feet into the cave. For more than a decade, he couldn't convince many locals that there was much to Carlsbad Cavern.