Bat Flight Program

Bat Flight at sunset
Each evening in summer, Brazilian free-tailed bats exit Carlsbad Cavern in search of dinner.

NPS Photo by Nick Hristov.

 

Bat Flight Program

The Bat Flight Program Will Resume Spring 2017

Please join us for the "Bat Flight Program" - an evening talk where a ranger presents information about bats prior to their flight. The program happens every evening from Memorial Day through October at the outdoor amphitheater (a more informal Q&A program with a ranger happens nightly in the month of May). The starting time of the talk varies with sunset times - please call the park (575.785.3012), check our website at www.nps.gov/cave or inquire at the visitor center to verify the program time.

Bat programs happen nightly from April through mid-to-late October. In late October or early November, the bats migrate south for the winter; they return in April or May, depending on weather.

Programs may be cancelled in the event of lightning.

Common Questions

How much does the program cost and do I need reservations? The program is FREE and you do not need reservations. Seating at the amphitheater is first come-first served.

When is it best to see lots of bats?The best bat flights normally occur in August through September when baby bats, born in early summer, join the flight along with migrating bats from colonies further north.

When do the bats return to the cave in the morning? The daily pre-dawn return of the bats is different from the evening exit flights, but are just as impressive. Early risers (approx. 4-6 a.m.) can see the bats as they re-enter the cavern with spectacular dives from heights of hundreds of feet. Individual bats may reach speeds of 25 mph (40 km/h) or more. Nursing mothers might be in and out of the cave through the night as they hunt and return to feed their young.

Do the bats fly when it rains? They will if it's not a heavy downpour or accompanied by high winds.

May I take pictures during the bat flight? We ask that you help us protect the bats by not using any type of electronic devices during the bat flight program. Electronic devices include: cameras of any kind, laptop computers, cell phones, iPads, iPods, tablets, and MP3 players. Visitors will be required to power off all electronic devices when the ranger program begins. Observations made by bat researchers have shown that bats who are used to total darkness and silence are disturbed by sounds and light, which can cause changes in their behavior.

Besides the risks to the bats, it is very difficult to get good quality photos of a bat flight under any circumstances, and the risks simply aren't worth the results that most visitors get. Photography or other filming at bat flight may be done under a special use permit obtained from the park at least two weeks in advance.

Is there room for wheelchairs at bat flight? Spaces to accommodate wheelchairs are located at the entrance to the amphitheater. Restrooms are available and fully accessible.

Can I bring my family pet to bat flight? Pets are not allowed in the amphitheater area.

Will the bats fly near me or come in contact with me? It's rare that a bat comes in contact with a person. The bats fly above the amphitheater and will avoid humans as much as possible. You will get to watch them above your head. Their main objective is to get in flight to find a yummy insect dinner!

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

3225 National Parks Highway
Carlsbad, NM 88220

Phone:

(575) 785-2232

Contact Us