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Contact: Bridget Litten, 505.785.3024
With the kids out of school and families headed out on their summer vacations, Carlsbad Caverns National Park will move to its expanded schedule starting on Saturday, May 25. These expanded hours will remain in effect through Labor Day, September 3. Superintendent John Benjamin said, “With summer temperatures in the Chihuahuan Desert often exceeding 100°, Carlsbad Cavern is a great place to visit with a year-round temperature of 56°.”
With the park’s expanded hours, the visitor center will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. The park offers two self-guided and six guided tours of Carlsbad Cavern and other park caves. The self-guided Natural Entrance route will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The self-guided Big Room route will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The ranger-guided Kings Palace tour is offered at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Tour times are established to allow ample time for visitors to exit the cave before the 7 p.m. closing.
For visitors who want to get off the beaten path, ranger-guided tours through undeveloped portions of Carlsbad Cavern, Slaughter Canyon Cave and Spider Cave provide opportunities to get away from the crowds that are common in the summer. Flashlight trips through Slaughter Canyon Cave are led daily at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. A lantern tour of Left Hand Tunnel is available everyday at 9 a.m. The Lower Cave tour is offered Monday through Friday at 1 p.m. Two strenuous wild caving trips, Hall of the White Giant and Spider Cave, are offered on Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. respectively.
There are no group size limits or reservations needed for the self-guided tours; however, there are limits and restrictions for guided tours. Reservations are required for guided tours and can be made online at www.recreation.gov or by calling 1.877.444.6777. The entrance fee—which allows access into the self-guided portions of Carlsbad Cavern—is $6 for adults; children 15 and under are free, but must be accompanied by an adult. Ranger-guided tour fees range from $7 to $20 for adults and $3.50 to $10 for children depending on the tour.
Evening bat flight programs at the Natural Entrance Amphitheater begin on May 14 and will continue through mid-October or until the bats migrate to Mexico for the winter. The programs are free and begin at dusk—the exact starting time may be obtained by calling 505.785.3012.
Construction on the park visitor center is set to begin in July; however, there will be no interruption in park ranger-guided or self-guided cave tours, or the evening bat flight program. However, for safety and security during the renovation, the park entrance gate at Whites City will be closed from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., in the summer, and from 6:30 p.m. to 6 a.m., the rest of the year.
For additional information, call 505.785.2232, or visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/cave/.