Plan Your Visit
A visit to Carlsbad Caverns National Park is most enjoyable when it is pre-planned. We suggest you begin by deciding which tours are appropriate for you and your family. In an effort to prevent White-Nose Syndrome at Carlsbad Caverns National Park, tour participants will NOT be allowed to enter cave areas with shoes, clothing, and/or equipment until they have been screened and decontaminated. More information about white-nose syndrome and park policies regarding decontamination.
Make reservations for guided tours by calling 1.877.444.6777 or make them online at Recreation.gov. Some tours are limited and fill up quickly, so plan well in advance.
For students and other group participants (to include scouting groups, civic or special-interest clubs and organizations, church groups, etc.), the park requires responsible chaperones to accompany the group. At a minimum, one adult chaperone is required for every 10 minors.
NOTE: Baby strollers are not permitted in the cave. Bring a baby backpack if you need to carry your child.
Children 3 years of age and under are not permitted on any of the guided tours offered at Carlsbad Caverns. However, visitors see most of the cave without a guide on the "self-guided" routes, where people of all ages are welcome.
Renovation to Primary Elevator System
The elevator system at Carlsbad Caverns National Park provides transportation of visitors and cargo to and from the main cavern, located 754 feet below the Visitor Center. The park's elevator system includes 4 elevators - a "primary" set of two that carry 16 passengers each and a "secondary" set of two that carry 8 passengers each.
While the primary elevators are out of service, only the smaller, secondary elevators will be available for visitor transportation into and out of the cave. We recommend park visitors schedule more time for their visit and anticipate waiting for elevator service, particularly on days of high visitation, such as around holidays and spring break. When feasible, some visitors may want to consider visiting on weekdays or other less busy periods.
Visitors inside Carlsbad Cavern may be allowed to hike out to the cave's natural entrance via a steep one mile route. Anyone considering this route needs to start the hike before mid-day, wear appropriate footwear, and be in good physical condition. It is an uphill climb with an elevation gain of about 800 feet (240 meters) over approximately one and a quarter miles (about two kilometers). This steep climb is not recommended for anyone who experiences problems with their heart, breathing, knees, back, or has diabetes. Visitors with health concerns should return to the surface by elevator.
The elevator renovation project began in September 2010 and the contractor has replaced the steel support beams in the park's primary elevator hoistway. The need for this work was driven by the presence of peeling lead-based paint, as well as corrosion on the 55 year-old steel framework. Work continues on other support structures and safety mechanisms.
As of February 22, 2010, a new federal law allows people who can legally possess firearms under applicable federal, state, and local laws, to legally possess firearms in Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
Federal law continues to prohibit firearms in certain facilities, such as park visitor centers. These facilities are posted with appropriate notices at public entrances. At Carlsbad Caverns, firearms are not allowed in the Visitor Center, including the restaurant, gift shop, and kennel, the park’s maintenance yard, park office buildings, or inside caves where guided tours occur, including Carlsbad Cavern, Slaughter Canyon Cave, and Spider Cave. The new federal law has no effect on existing laws and regulations regarding the use of firearms in national parks or hunting. Hunting, target shooting, and any other use of firearms are not allowed in Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
It is the responsibility of visitors to understand and comply with all applicable state, local, and federal firearms laws before entering this park. As a starting point, please visit our state’s website. [New Mexico Department of Public Safety]
Did You Know?
In 2003, a park employee found a piece of a stone scraper within view of Carlsbad Cavern's entrance that goes back to Ice Age Indian hunters. In 2004, archeologists found fragments of two spear points of the Midland-style Paleo Indian projectile points of some 10,000 years ago.