Bat Flight Program

Bats in Flight
Each evening in summer, Brazilian free-tailed bats emerge from Carlsbad Cavern in search of dinner.

NPS / Nick Hristov

The Bat Flight Programs have concluded for the year.

Next year's programs begin on May 25, 2019.

Please join us for the free Bat Flight Program (late May-October), an evening ranger talk about bats prior to their flight. No reservations are required for this program that happens every evening from Memorial Day weekend through October at the outdoor amphitheater (near the mouth of Carlsbad Cavern). The starting time of the program changes as the summer progresses and sunset times change.

If you are here before late May, you are welcome to watch the bats exit the cave nightly from the time they return from migration (usually mid-to-late April) until we start our program Memorial Day weekend.

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.

Where is the outdoor amphitheater? The seating area where you will sit to watch the bats is at the mouth of Carlsbad Cavern, at the Natural Entrance, about a five minute walk from the visitor center.

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 cavern 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 cavern 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? To protect the bats, electronic devices are not allowed at the Bat Flight Program. Electronic devices include cameras of any kind, laptop computers, cell phones, iPads, iPods, tablets, and MP3 players.

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!

Last updated: October 27, 2018

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Mailing Address:

3225 National Parks Highway
Carlsbad, NM 88220


(575) 785-2232

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