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Plan Like a Park Ranger: Carlsbad Caverns Top-10 List

Photo of cave formations along the Big Room Trail.
Cave formations along the Big Room Trail in Carlsbad Cavern.

NPS / Michael Larson

Top-10 Tips for Visiting Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Reservations are required to experience Carlsbad Cavern and available online or by calling 877-444-6777. The reservation only reserves the time. No reservations are available at the park. Entrance tickets must be purchased at the visitor center.
Only clear water can be consumed to protect the cavern.
Explore Carlsbad Cavern on your own along two trails—the Big Room and Natural Entrance. Hike time is about 1.5 hours for the Big Room Trail and one hour for the steep Natural Entrance Trail.

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One mile (2 km) of the Big Room Trail is accessible to wheelchairs.

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Discover the Chihuahuan Desert along the unpaved Walnut Canyon Desert Drive. Suitable for most vehicles except motor homes, trailers, and buses. Ask a ranger at the visitor center for a drive guide.
Take photos, including flash, in the cavern to record your adventure. Just be aware of visitors around you.
Bird watchers and picnickers can enjoy Rattlesnake Springs, a less visited area of the park.
Watch about 400,000 Brazilian free-tail bats emerge from Carlsbad Cavern during the summer.

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Hike the short Chihuahuan Desert Nature Trail to learn about the unique plants found in the park and to see two natural entrances to Carlsbad Cavern.

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Checkout the restaurant, gift shop, and non-profit bookstore in the visitor center. There are limited food options and a wide variety of products available for purchase as reminders of your visit.
Click for more tips to Plan Your Vacation Like a Park Ranger.

Last updated: May 28, 2021