Accessibility

Carlsbad Caverns National Park offers accessible parking, picnicking, dining, and visitor center services.

Please review our Accessibility Guide.

Service Animals

Please visit our Service Animals information page.

Experience Carlsbad Cavern

The park offers elevator service into and out of the cavern, where you can access the Big Room Trail.

The Big Room Trail is the only wheelchair accessible route in the cavern. You will discover this one mile (2 km) trail after you descend 750 feet (229 m) into the Underground Rest Area. Please note the trail is wet from dripping water and can be slippery, bumpy, uneven, and difficult to navigate. It is not Americans with Disabilities Act approved and should only be attempted with assistance. Maps defining the wheelchair accessible areas can be obtained in the visitor center. Due to steep grades and narrowness of the trail, barriers, and signs have been installed to note the portions that are inaccessible in a wheelchair.

The Natural Entrance Trail is not Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant due to its steep grade (15%–20%) and therefore not accessible with wheelchairs.

Strollers: Strollers, baby carriages, and similar devices are prohibited in all caves except as necessary for children with mobility issues. If medically needed, they are allowed within the wheelchair-designated portions of the Big Room of Carlsbad Cavern, but never on the Natural Entrance trail due to the steep grade.

Segways: Segways and similar large mobility devices are prohibited in all caves. Cave conditions pose an unacceptable hazard to the safety of the operators of such devices due to narrow trails, cave ceiling variations, and steep inclines.

Wheelchairs/Devices That Aid Walking: Wheelchairs, walkers, scooters and similar devices are permitted in the wheelchair-designated portions of the Big Room only and not in other areas of the cavern or any other caves.

Canes/Walking Sticks: The possession and/or use of a walking stick within the cavern is prohibited, except for those individuals with limited mobility that are medically necessary. Visitors with canes/walking sticks must only use them on the paved trail and are required to have a rubber or soft tip.

Ranger-led tours are not accessible with wheelchairs, walkers, scooters, or canes due to difficult and rugged trail conditions. Exception: You may use a cane or walking stick on the King's Palace tour if medically needed, but no wheelchairs, walkers, or scooters.

Bat Flight Program

Reserved, accessible parking is available in the "Bat Flight Disabled Parking" area. Please look for the brown sign with the wheelchair icon before you arrive at the visitor center. The very upper row of the Bat Flight Amphitheater features a reserved area for visitors using wheelchairs. A family style accessible restroom is also available.

Visitor Center Parking

Accessible parking is marked with blue reserved signs. The visitor center, theater, gift shop, bookstore, restrooms, and restaurant can be accessed via ramps from the parking lot. You may enter the visitor center via automatic doors in the front.

Picnic Areas

Accessible picnic tables near the visitor center are located at the far end of the east parking lot as well as south of the restaurant. A few tables can be found along Walnut Canyon Drive—the main paved road from the park entrance.

Nature Trail

A section of the outdoor nature trail near the visitor center is partially accessible to wheelchairs. The trailhead is located in the east parking lot. Please ask a ranger at the visitor centerinformation desk for more details.

Rattlesnake Springs Picnic Area

Located about 15 miles (24 km) from the visitor center, this grassy area features picnic tables and cooking grills under large cottonwood trees. Accessible restrooms and an accessible picnic table are available.

Walnut Canyon Desert Drive

A one-hour drive through the Chihuahuan Desert, this low speed, 9.5 mile (15 km) gravel road is suitable for most vehicles except motor homes and cars pulling trailers. The Walnut Canyon Desert Drive begins near the visitor center and a brochure is available upon request at the visitor center information desk.

Roadside Exhibits

Interpretive signs and bulletin boards are located at pull-outs along the park entrance road. Most are readable from your vehicle.

Additional Information

  • The park does not rent or loan any type of mobility assistance equipment (canes, wheelchairs, or scooters). Wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, rubber tipped canes, and walking sticks needed for medical purposes are permitted in the cavern, but recreational walking or hiking sticks (or any kind of stick with a sharp, pointy end) are not permitted.

  • Please use careful consideration when deciding to walk down the Natural Entrance Trail if you have medical issues such as painful knees, hips, ankles or feet, trouble walking, a heart condition, breathing problems, issues climbing stairs, problems with balance, and/or difficulty seeing in dim light.

  • Consider that the Big Room has inclines and declines along the walking path. If your mobility is limited, please plan accordingly.

  • Small oxygen tanks are permitted in the cavern for medical reasons. Ensure you have plenty of oxygen and new batteries for your time in the cavern. If you have breathing problems, you may want to bring a personal inhaler with you due to high humidity in the cavern.

  • Flashlights and helmets with headlamps are permitted in the cavern.

Last updated: August 3, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

3225 National Parks Highway
Carlsbad, NM 88220

Phone:

(575) 785-2232

Contact Us