• Photo of the steep natural entrance of Carlsbad Caverns

    Carlsbad Caverns

    National Park New Mexico

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  • Scenic Loop Road Closed

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

  • All Camping & Backcountry Caving Suspended Until Further Notice

    All camping and backcountry/recreational caving in the park has been suspended until further notice due to flood damage on backcountry roads and trails.

Natural Entrance Self-Guided Tour

The Natural Entrance Route just before entering the twilight zone.
The Natural Entrance Route just before entering the twilight zone.
NPS Photo by Peter Jones.
 
The Natural Entrance route is a self-guided tour available to visitors with plenty of time and in good physical condition. This 1¼-mile tour follows the traditional explorer’s route, entering the cavern through the large historic natural entrance. The Natural Entrance route descends more than 750 feet into the earth following steep and narrow trails through a tall and spacious trunk passage called the Main Corridor. The route culminates in the underground rest area, near the elevators and Big Room route starting point. Visitors in good health who plan to take both self-guided tours may enjoy starting with the Natural Entrance Route. Highlights along this route include Bat Cave, Devil’s Spring, Green Lake Overlook and the Boneyard, a complex maze of highly-dissolved limestone rock reminiscent of Swiss cheese. Visitors should watch for Iceberg Rock, a single 200,000-ton boulder that fell from the cave ceiling thousands of years ago.

Anyone under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

When: Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend hours—8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Early September to late May hours—8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Closed December 25.

Cost: Adults – $10; Children 15 and under – Free; Annual Pass, Senior Pass, Access Pass and Volunteer Pass – Free for the cardholder plus plus three adults.

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?

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.