Climb Down into the Depths of Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns Visitor Center

The Carlsbad Caverns show the true beauty of what nature can do with time. It is a stunning hike and a once in a lifetime experience.

The Carlsbad Caverns is an experience like no other. There is a seven mile scenic road that leads into the park, which will direct you towards the ranger station and entrance to the caves. The entrance to this road starts and ends in Whites City.

You have two options to enter the cave:
The first is from the natural entrance which will lead you down a steep slope that lasts a little more then a mile. This entrance is located about 1000 feet south of the ranger station and there is a path with signs that will direct you towards it as soon as you leave the station.

The second is taking the elevator straight down into the big room. The elevator is located inside the ranger station in the middle of the park. If you have trouble walking or cannot walk on steep slopes do not take the natural entrance because once you start there is no going back.

I chose to start at the natural entrance because you get views such as Devil's Spring and the walk is quite pleasant.

As you walk down you will pass on your right hand side Iceberg Rock as well as the scenic rooms that are ranger only guided. When the incline stops you'll have reached the start of the big room as well as the elevators back to the top and food and water.

Walking into the big room you will pass the hall of giants that contains the Giant Dome and Twin Domes. As you continue through the narrower part of the big room you will see the Temple of the Sun right before the room opens up. When you pass the Temple of the Sun the infamous chandelier appears and it is breathtaking to say the least. Continuing down the path you'll catch the Rock of Ages and the Painted Grotto before getting back to the start of the loop. This is a point-to-point hike if you choose to take the natural entrance in. Once you're finished exploring, you can take the elevator back up into the ranger station.

Plan on spending 3-4 hours on this trek!

Pack List

  • Warm clothes
  • Flashlight
  • Bottled water, no food or other beverages
  • If you plan on photographing make sure you bring a tripod!
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RT Distance 1.2 Miles
Elevation Gain -2000 Feet
Activities Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Point-to-Point
Features
Adult Beverages
Bathrooms
Easy Parking

Reviews

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Visit to National parks

The best caverns I have ever been to. I was really impressed with the walk through the caverns.

Incredible

Having never been into a cavern before, I didn't know what to expect, so I didn't have high expectations. Carlsbad Caverns absolutely blew me away. There are 3 places in the US I've been to so far that have left me without words to accurately describe them - the Redwoods, the Grand Canyon, and now the Carlsbad Caverns. The "Big Room" in the self-guided tour feels like another planet with cathedral like stalactites and stalagmites. The temperature is comfortable too at 56 degrees and 90% humidity. You never really feel too cold or too warm. I missed bat flight at night. It would've just added to the experience. I'd recommend staying at Rodeway Inn in Whites City just outside of the park. It's cheaper than Carlsbad itself and closer to the entrance.

Fantastic park and don't forget the bats!

5 stars all the way for this park and the climb down into the caverns! We were there in the summer and also got to take advantage of the Bat Flight Program that happens every evening May - October in the amphitheater, it was such a great experience learning about the bats and then seeing their evening flight. More information here: https://www.nps.gov/cave/planyourvisit/bat_flight_program.htm


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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