• Photo of the steep natural entrance of Carlsbad Caverns

    Carlsbad Caverns

    National Park New Mexico

There are park alerts in effect.
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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.

  • Scenic Loop Road Closed

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

Bat Flight Program

Each evening in summer, nearly 400,000 Brazilian (aka Mexican) free-tail bats exit Carlsbad Cavern in search of a smorgasbord of insects.
Each evening in summer, Mexican Free-tailed bats exit Carlsbad Cavern in search of a smorgasbord of insects for dinner.
NPS Photo by Nick Hristov.

Notice: ALL electronic devices including cameras of any kind, laptop computers, cell phones, iPads, iPods, tablets, MP3 players are NOT permitted during the bat flight program.

Prior to the evening bat flight, a program is given at the cavern entrance by a park ranger. The starting time of the talk varies with sunset times - it is best to call the park at 575.785.3012 to check for the estimated time. Programs may be canceled in the event of inclement weather. Bat Flight programs are scheduled from Memorial Day weekend through mid-to-late October. There is no charge for the bat flight program. In late October or early November, the bats migrate to Mexico for the winter; they return in April or May, depending on the weather.

Best Flights
The best bat flights normally occur in July and August. At this time baby bats, born in early summer, join the flight along with migrating bats from colonies further north.

Return Flights
The daily pre-dawn return of the bats is different from the evening exit flights but are just as impressive. Early risers (approx. 4 - 6 a.m.) can see the bats as they re-enter Carlsbad Cavern with spectacular dives from heights of hundreds of feet. Individual bats diving in from every direction may reach speeds of 25 mph (40 km/h) or more.

Bat Flight Breakfast
Every summer the park invites the public to rise early and join park rangers in watching the bat's return flight. In 2014, the event will be held on Saturday, July 19 from from 5-7 a.m. Breakfast is available for purchase at 5 a.m. near the Bat Flight Amphitheater. The first 60 visitors will have the opportunity for free tickets for a lantern-lit ranger guided tour down the Main Corridor at 6:30 a.m.; tickets will be available at the gate near the east parking lot on a first come-first served basis. Carl S. Bat will also make a special appearance at about 6:45 a.m. and throughout the day. A climbing demonstration will occur at 7 a.m. at the mouth of Carlsbad Cavern. Wake the cave up with a ranger at 8 a.m. for 20 people , tickets will be availalbe at the east gate. Also at 8 a.m a Kings Palace guided photo tour by reservation for $20 a person, you may call 575.785.3152.

For Your Comfort and Safety
All electronic devices including cameras of any kind, laptop computers, cell phones, iPads, iPods, tablets, MP3 players are NOT permitted during the Bat Flight program. Several scientific studies, along with the observations of many bat researchers from around the world, have documented the disturbance caused to bats by sounds and lights, especially white light such as that in flash photography.

Besides the risks to the bats, it is very difficult to get good quality photos of a bat flight under any circumstances, and the risks simply aren't worth the results that most visitors get. Photography or other filming at bat flight may be done under a special use permit obtained from the park at least two weeks in advance.

Spaces to accommodate people using wheelchairs are located at the entrance to the amphitheater. Restrooms are available and fully accessible.

Pets are not allowed in the amphitheater area.

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.