Bat Flight Program

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

Photo by Nick Hristov.


Nightly Bat Flight Program is at 7:45 p.m.

"DAWN OF THE BATS" SPECIAL EVENT - JULY 15! One special morning each year, curious visitors join park rangers at the entrance of Carlsbad Cavern to witness the homecoming of hundreds of thousands of Brazilian free-tailed bats.

Between April and October these bats call Carlsbad Caverns National Park home. Each sunset, hundreds of people witness their mass exodus from the cave in search of food and water, but far fewer people are present as these creatures of the night return at sunrise with their bellies full. Join us Saturday, July 15, 2017 for the Dawn of the Bats, a FREE special event celebrating bats as they arrive home in small groups and dive back into the safety of the cave.

5:30 a.m. - The main event begins at the outdoor amphitheater when we will view the bats returning to the cave.

6:30 - 7:30 a.m. - 1/2 mile nature walk to explore the life of bats in the park.

8 a.m. - Noon - Bat-themed activities in the visitor center including kid's programs, talks about bat research being conducted in the park and more!

No reservations necessary! We hope to see you there!


Please join us for the FREE "Bat Flight Program" (May-October) - an evening talk where a ranger presents information about bats prior to their flight. No reservations are required for this program that happens every evening from Memorial Day through October at the outdoor amphitheater (near the mouth of the cave). The starting time of the talk varies with sunset times - please call the park (575-236-1374), check back under "Things to Do," or you can inquire at the visitor center to verify the program time.

If you are here before May 26, 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 officially start our program in late May, but please keep in mind there will be no official educational, ranger-led program until 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 theater or seating area where you will sit to watch the bats is at the mouth of the cave (the "Natural Entrance") - about a 5 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 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!

Last updated: June 21, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

3225 National Parks Highway
Carlsbad, NM 88220


(575) 785-2232

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