Explore the Cavern at Your Own Pace

Explore Carlsbad Cavern at your own pace on these two trails. Access is available by elevator or hiking and requires an entrance ticket.

Notice: All visitors who enter the cavern are required to walk on bio-cleaning mats after exiting. This extraordinary measure is due to the potential presence of the fungus which causes White-nose Syndrome in New Mexico.

Cave formations in the Big Room.
You can see a variety of cave formations along the Big Room Trail.


Big Room Trail

The most popular route, the Big Room, is the largest single cave chamber by volume in North America. This 1.25 mile (2 km) trail is relatively flat, and will take about 1.5 hours (on average) to walk it. Actor and comedian Will Rogers called the cavern, "The Grand Canyon with a roof over it." You will be rewarded with spectacular views, cave formations of all shapes and sizes, and a rope ladder used by explorers in 1924.

If you are seeking a shorter experience, the Big Room has a shortcut which reduces the walking distance to about 0.6 miles (1 km). The hiking time is about 45 minutes.

Parts of the Big Room Trail are wheelchair accessible. You can ask for more information about accessibility at the visitor center. You may also download our Accessibility Guide.

Browse photographs of the Big Room in our photo gallery.

Visitors walking down the switchbacks on the Natural Entrance trail
Descending into the Devil's Den on the Natural Entrance Trail.

NPS / Peter Jones

Natural Entrance Trail

The 1.25 mile (2 km) Natural Entrance Trail is extremely steep. Depending on if you decide to hike up or down, you gain or lose about 750 feet (229 m)—equivalent to walking up or down a 75-story building. The hike takes about one hour (on average) to complete. This trail is not recommended for visitors with heart or respiratory conditions.

You have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of early explorers as you see formations like Devil's Spring, the Whale's Mouth, and Iceberg Rock.

The Natural Entrance is not an accessible trail.

Browse photographs of the Natural Entrance Trail in our photo gallery.


Last updated: May 2, 2024

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3225 National Parks Highway
Carlsbad, NM 88220


575 785-2232

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