Big Room Self-Guided Tour
The basic tour through Carlsbad Cavern is the Big Room route, a one-mile, self-guided underground walk around the perimeter of the largest room in the cave, the Big Room. An audio guide notably enhances the tour. Taking approximately 1½ hours, this circular route passes many large and famous features including Bottomless Pit, Giant Dome, Rock of Ages, and Painted Grotto. Highly decorated and immense, the Big Room should be seen by all park visitors.
Access to the Big Room is provided by elevators located in the visitor center. The relatively level and well-lit trails make this the ideal tour for visitors with limited time or walking difficulties. Approximately two-thirds of the Big Room is accessible to people using wheelchairs with assistance, an access guide is available at the visitor center information desk. Baby strollers are not permitted in any part of the cave. Bring a baby backpack if you need to carry your child.
Just how BIG is the Big Room? The Atlas of Great Caves of the World by Courbon, Chabert, Bosted & Lindsley published in 1989 states that the floor area of the Big Room in Carlsbad Cavern is 33,210 square meters. 33,210 sq. meters equals approximately 357,480 sq. ft. A football field is 360 feet long (including the end zones) by 160 feet wide or equal to 57,600 sq. ft. By dividing 57,600 sq. ft. into 357,480 sq. ft., you roughly get that 6.2 football fields would fit into the Big Room. In acres, one acre is equal to 4,840 sq. yards or 43,560 sq. feet. Divide 43,560 sq. ft into 357,480 sq. ft. and we find that the Big Room is 8.2 acres in size (more or less).
Anyone under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
When: Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend hours—8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Early September to late May hours—8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Closed December 25.
All visitors who enter Carlsbad Cavern—for any tour—are required to purchase an Entrance Fee ticket. This ticket is good for 3 days.
Did You Know?
The 117-plus caves of Carlsbad Caverns National Park were carved out not by running water and streams like many limestone caves in the world, rather these caves were dissolved by very aggressive sulfuric acid.