Climb Down into the Depths of Carlsbad Caverns
New Mexico › Carlsbad Caverns Visitor Center
Added by Lucas Pols
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!
- Warm clothes
- Bottled water, no food or other beverages
- If you plan on photographing make sure you bring a tripod!
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
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
Spring, Summer, Autumn
Are we missing something?Suggest an edit
ReviewsLeave a Review
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
It is absolutely unbelievable to think that such an amazing underground cave system like the Carlsbad National Caverns exists. The breathtaking hike down into the cave is truly a once in a lifetime experience! Amazing National Park, and amazing lifelong dream fulfilled
A hike like no other!
We left a bit later in the day not realizing that the hikes down into the caverns are cut off at 3PM for hikers going in(supposedly, we saw quite a few after 3). We were also a bit shocked to see just how many people there were! We went on a Saturday afternoon in August. Despite the large crowd, the Caverns were absolutely out of this world. We had seen on the nat. park website it gets down to 54 degrees in the caves so we decided layers were best. It was nice once we got to the bottom and the hard work was over, but carrying all the layers back up the trail was something I would plan for next time. I recommend not skimping on trail time at the bottom because there is a lot you'll want to just stop and stare at! The elevators are still not in service.
Completely exceeded expectations. Enter through the Natural Entrance if you have time.
I don't much care for caves and decided to make a quick detour to Carlsbad since we were in the area, and it blew me away. The heights and depths within the caves were astounding. We did the natural entrance in and out, and it took about 3 hours at a brisk pace. Walking in via the natural entrance takes around 45 minutes with lots of elevation change, so be prepared if you decide to do it. I would highly recommend going in the way, as it allows for stunning views of the caverns as you descend.
Worth Every Minute
Decided to take the natural entrance, which at the time was the only option because elevators were down. Be ready for a long walk that really makes you appreciate what the early cave explorers had to go through. You will lose track of time down there. Four hours that are absolutely worth every minute. Bring water.
Planning your trip
March and April are a perfect time to visit due to the lack of crowds. The weather is still warm and sunny, and you don't have to worry about bumping into other groups along the trail in the cavern.
More Adventures Nearby
Hike the Alkali Flat Trail at White Sands National Monument
New Mexico / Alkali Flat Trailhead
This trail takes you from the rolling dune fields of White Sands National Monument to the interdunal zone on the edge of an ancient lake bed.
Camp at Bluff Springs
New Mexico / Bluff Springs, Lincoln National Forest
A mile up in elevation and only a few miles into Lincoln National Forest from Alamogordo, take off on the scenic Sunspot Highway that leads to the solar observation center before a short detour off a.