Carlsbad Caverns National Park
We visited Carlsbad Caverns National Park in December with our friends, the Selm family. The park is located in the outskirts of Carlsbad, New Mexico. We had heard how incredibly beautiful this place was, and it didn’t disappoint! The visitors center is quite large and has a restaurant, two cool souvenir shops and museum area.
The kids worked on their Junior Ranger booklets while we ate lunch in the restaurant area. There is even a dog boarding area where you can drop off your dog while exploring the cavern.
There is an elevator that you can ride down and back to the cavern floor, but we chose to enter through the Natural Entrance Trail and walk down. I’m so glad we walked down, because the trail descending down was one of our favorite parts! Don’t skip the hike down!
Bat emergence at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
During certain times of the year, millions of Mexican free-tailed bats head out to to find and eat thousands of pounds of crop pest insects. It’s supposedly an incredible sight to witness! Since it was December, we missed that opportunity, but would love to return one day and check that out! The bats can be seen from mid-April to late October.
This is the second time we have missed a bat show. In Austin, TX there is a similar bat show near one of their downtown bridges. We have heard it’s one of the most exciting things to see in Austin!
While walking around the caverns, we did a self guided tour, but ranger led tours are available. There were multiple rangers around in the cavern along the trail that were more than happy to answer any questions we had. Carlsbad Caverns stays a consistent 56 degrees year round, but the above ground portion of the park experiences extreme desert heat in the summer.
We found out that there are still unexplored portions of the caverns, which got the kids excited to do some exploring! Unfortunately, (or should I say, fortunately), you are restricted to the paths and well-lit areas (I can’t imagine exploring a cave thousands of feet down below the surface!). The Caverns are a special place and should be at the top of anyones bucket list as far as natural wonders go.
We stayed at Carlsbad KOA, which was nice, but not super close to the caverns. While staying there, we also visited Guadelupe Mountain National Park in Texas. There wasn’t much at all around the actual RV Park, but it had won the award of “New Mexico’s #1 RV Park” so we stayed there, but in hindsight, would’ve tried to find somewhere closer to the two national parks we were there to see.
There was a state park nearby, Brantley Lake State Park, which we didn’t visit, but we did spend an afternoon checking out Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park, which was really neat! The kids got to see some really cool animals! We went with two families that were also staying at the KOA, so everyone enjoyed the trip and the good company. Check out some pics from our time there!