Dawn of the Bats

Children watch bats return to Carlsbad Cavern at dawn.
Children watch bats return to Carlsbad Cavern at dawn.


Hundreds of thousands of Brazilian free-tailed bats call Carlsbad Cavern home from April through October. It's tradition to watch their mass exodus from the cavern each evening. But each year on the third Saturday of July, we gather at dawn to watch their return. Join us for this annual celebration in the Bat Flight Amphitheater as these creatures of the night dive back into the darkness of the Carlsbad Cavern. After the bats return, join us for bat-related activities throughout the day in the visitor center, and end the day with the Bat Flight Program in the Bat Flight Amphitheater.

  • Dawn of the Bats is free. Some activities may require signing up the day before.
  • The Bat Flight Program is free. There are no reservations.
  • To protect the bats, electronic devices are not allowed at either of these programs. Electronic devices include cameras of any kind, laptop computers, cell phones, iPads, iPods, tablets, and MP3 players.
  • Spaces to accommodate wheelchairs are located at the entrance to the Bat Flight Amphitheater.
  • Restrooms are available and fully accessible.
  • Pets are not allowed in the amphitheater.

Program times vary from year to year. Dawn of the Bats typically starts around 5 am. In July, the Bat Flight Program typically starts around 7 pm.

Schedule of Activities: July 17, 2021

5 am—Bats Return
Start the day by viewing the return of the Brazilian free-tailed bats to Carlsbad Cavern in the Bat Flight Amphitheater.

6:15–7:30 am—Nature Hike
Explore the life of bats at Carlsbad Caverns National Park on a ranger-guided nature walk. The walk will begin shortly after sunrise from the Bat Flight Amphitheater.

6:15–7:30 am—Bats, Myths, and Legends
Before the visitor center opens, join park rangers for a talk in the Bat Flight Amphitheater.

7:30–8:30 am—Wake Up the Cavern
Be the first to enter Carlsbad Cavern for the day! Walk the Big Room or the Natural Entrance trail with a ranger to turn on the lights for the day. Limit of 10 visitors per trail. Participants must sign up at the information desk in the visitor center the day before.

8 am—Visitor Center Opens
Ticket desk opens for reservation pick-up.

8:30 am—Cavern Opens
Reservations are required for all cavern entry.

11–11:30 am—Become a Junior Bat Biologist
Join a park ranger in the visitor center junior ranger station to learn how scientists study bats through hands-on activities. Pick up a Junior Bat Biologist Activity Book to earn your badge.

12–12:30 pm, 2:30–3 pm, and 3:30–4 pm—Bat Talk
Join a ranger for a 30-minute talk to discover something cool about bats. Meet the ranger in the exhibit area a few minutes before the scheduled program time.

7:45 pm*—Bat Flight Program
Watch the Brazilian free-tailed bats exit the Natural Entrance of Carlsbad Cavern as they begin their nightly search for food and water. This program takes place in the Bat Flight Amphitheater.

* The Bat Flight Program time subject to change based on previous flight time. Please check with the information desk in the visitor center to confirm time.

Last updated: July 7, 2021

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Mailing Address:

3225 National Parks Highway
Carlsbad , NM 88220


575 785-2232

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