Lower Cave Tour

Visitor standing by the Texas Toothpick formation in Lower Cave.
The Texas Toothpick is one of many formations you'll see on the Lower Cave Tour in Carlsbad Cavern.

NPS / Peter Jones

In 1924, National Geographic expedition members wrote about the wonders of Lower Cave. Visitors today can see the evidence left behind from those and other explorers. Highlights of this tour include "The Rookery," with countless nests of cave pearls, the "Colonel Boles Formation," and an incredible diversity of cave formations that compete for your attention everywhere you look. Included in the tour is a descent of sixty feet of ladders and a knotted rope to hang onto as you slowly walk backward down a slope at the tour entrance.

Reservations are required for the Lower Cave Tour. To make reservations call 877-444-6777 or visit Recreation.gov.

Cost: $20 for adults and $10 for children, Senior and Access Pass holders. Tour participants must also purchase an entrance fee ticket.

Duration: 3 hours

When: Check tour schedule chart for tour times throughout the year.

Where: Tour departs from the visitor center theater.

Age Limit: Ages 12 and over. Anyone under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.


  • Participants must be able to safely negotiate cave passages containing fragile formations without harm to the cave, themselves, or others. There are no electric lights or paved trails, just the uneven natural floor that can be slick or rocky. To get to this level of the cavern, you must descend about 60 feet of ladders and walk backwards down a 10-foot slick slope using a knotted handline. Once down, you will squeeze through the Florida Keyhole, hike through large passages, stoop walk through a maze, and experience total darkness. This tour is not for those who have a fear of heights, have poor night vision, or weak knees. Helmets with headlamps and gloves will be provided.
  • You will receive a mandatory safety orientation before you venture into the cave.
  • Hiking boots or hiking shoes with good aggressive tread are required. Hiking boots with ankle support are recommended. No sandals, flip flops, tennis shoes, or similar. You will not be allowed to participate in the tour if you are not wearing proper footwear—no exceptions. Click for more details.
  • Only very small fanny packs or very small camera bags are permitted on the tour.
  • The park will provide helmets with lights and gloves. Due to the possibility of carrying the lethal fungus that causes White-Nose Syndrome in bats, we do no allow anyone to use their own personal caving gear.

Maximum Group Size: 12

Important Notice: A disease known as White-Nose Syndrome is killing bats in North America. To prevent it from spreading to our bats, do not wear shoes, clothing, or bring any gear into any cave at Carlsbad Caverns National Park that were in another cave.

Note: Caving is inherently risky and cave rescues are difficult, dangerous, and take hours to accomplish.

Last updated: April 30, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

3225 National Parks Highway
Carlsbad, NM 88220


575 785-2232

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