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Saturday, July 21, Carlsbad Caverns National Park will host the
All who arrive on July 21, before 7 a.m. for the Bat Flight Breakfast event, will receive free entry to the self-guided portions of Carlsbad Cavern for the day. Tickets for guided lantern tours at 6:30 and 7 a.m. will be offered to the first 120 event participants. These special tours of the natural entrance route of Carlsbad Cavern involve a strenuous hike and participants must be physically able to hike down steep inclines for more than an hour.
The Carlsbad Caverns Trading restaurant, located in the Visitor Center, will offer a meal combo for $7 that includes a breakfast burrito or yogurt parfait, fruit, and a drink. Other food and beverage options are available a la carte. Reservations are not taken for the guided tours or breakfast.
To launch the festivities, the public is also invited to two special programs following the bats' exit flight the night before. Beginning at about 8:45 p.m., Friday, July 20, a park ranger will lead a night hike to introduce "Our Nocturnal Neighbors". And everyone is invited to listen to "Bat Chat" and learn how researchers use special audio equipment to identify bats by their ultrasonic calls.
The Bat Flight Breakfast began in 1957 as a way to encourage visitors to see the bats' morning return flight. In contrast to the sight at dusk of bats spiraling upwards, gradually rising, before flying in clusters over the ridge, in the morning, the bats look like specks as they circle several hundred feet overhead and then dive in clusters into the cave entrance. The bats zipping into the cave at high rates of speed sound like falling rain. While the park's bat population this year is reduced because of drought conditions, there are still thousands of bats to be observed.
Overnight parking and camping in the front country is prohibited. For a complete list of recreational opportunities available at Carlsbad Caverns National Park, phone 575-785-2232 or visit www.nps.gov/cave.