Climb Down into the Depths of Carlsbad Caverns

New Mexico Carlsbad Caverns Visitor Center

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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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Activities:

Hiking

Skill Level:

Beginner

Season:

Spring, Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:

Point-to-Point

Distance:

1.2 Miles

Elev. Gain:

-2000 Feet

Rating:

Features:

Adult Beverages
Bathrooms
Easy Parking

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13 days ago

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.

13 days ago

5 months ago

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

5 months ago

8 months ago

Surreal!

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

8 months ago

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.

10 months ago

about 1 year ago

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.

about 1 year ago

over 1 year ago

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.

over 1 year ago

over 1 year ago

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.

over 1 year ago

Added by Lucas Pols

Photographer with a passion for culture, travel, and exposing those who do good in the world LucasJPolsPhotography.com

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