Carlsbad Caverns, NMPrint Full | Basic
Description 7 Triplogs 0 Topics
RatedFavorite   Wish List Region
 Southeast, NM
Difficulty 1.5    Route Finding
Trailhead Elevation 4,387 feet
Avg Time One Way 1 hour
Interest Historic & Perennial Creek
Descriptions 253
Routes 0
Photos 4,238
Trips 1,561 map ( 13,854 miles )
Age 64
Location Cloudcroft, NM
Rated Viewed All Mine Friends
15  2012-09-13 Patrick L
5  2009-10-06 imike
Large Profile
Trailhead Forecast
Historical Weather
Forest Lincoln
NPS Carlsbad Caverns NP
Backpack - No
Seasons - ALL
Dogs not allowed
Alternative Routes
Nearby Hikes Area Water Sources
direct air miles away to trailhead
0.3  Guano Road Trail
4.8  Rattlesnake Canyon
8.4  North Slaughter Canyon
9.6  Yucca Canyon
10.4  Longview Spring
12.5  Juniper Wells Trail #211
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Go prepared! - Caving Checklist

It's a Big Hole!!
by imike

Mobile Version
Okay, it's not exactly a getaway hike, and it lacks the pure allure of a caving experience, but it is still too good to pass up. There used to even be an element of hard exercise involved, but the current regulations pretty well eliminate that element; you can walk the 750' down into the cave, but the trail is now one way only... you are not allowed to hike back up! The only allowed exit is on the elevator. I was told by one of the docents that it is possible to ask for a permit to walk out, but that may or may not be given... may be worth asking for just to see if it is your lucky day.

You can augment the workout by taking the King's Palace guided tour, which will add a nice bit of hiking with some uphill, and another mile can be added by doing the self guided tour of the Big Room. That one is a must...

I found that by being at the doors when they opened for the Natural Entrance (8:30am) that I was able to make my way down through the switchbacks to the cave bottom having both the switchbacks and the Big Room all to myself. That makes for a much nicer experience and is worth the effort. The switchbacks leading steeply down from the Natural Entrance comprises what may well be the most interesting set in the world... certainly the most unique.

Of course, in season there is the famous evening bat flight spectacle... early spring through October. If you are here late in the day make sure you catch this event. You can call 575-785-3012 to check on the status of the event.

The cave offers a very nice respite from hot or inclement weather... a nice steady mid 50's and 90% humidity. As long as you're moving around it is very comfortable, and wind chill factor is at a minimum, but take along a light jacket for sitting around. You'll be glad you did. You can take a break and dine down in the bottom of the cavern, or enjoy a bit more extensive menu up above in the Visitors Center.

There are extensive displays both on the approach road to the cave, and at the cavern visitor center. Additionally, if open, there is a scenic mesa loop drive, and a variety of hiking adventure potentials in the area. Not only will your annual National Parks pass get you into the park, it is all you need to access the cave. There are extra charges for some of the guided tours, and there are other caves available to explore under permit or as ranger guided adventures. Check out their website: or call them at 575-785-2232.

A great combined trip will include the Cave, Guadalupe Peak (highest point in Texas) and Mckittrick Canyon... a great bit of contrasting hiking.

Note: there is no camping within the park boundaries. Whites City has motel and RV facility, and there are numerous camping opportunities within the adjacent Guadalupe mountains.

There is gas and grocery in Whites City, but much cheaper to pick up supply in Carlsbad.

So, ignore the crowds, or better yet, get there early enough to avoid them... and Enjoy!


    Directions Preferred Months Oct Nov Mar Apr
    Water / Source:yes, sold by the bottle!
    Preferred StartAny Cell Phone SignalNo Sunrise5:33am Sunset6:22pm
    Road / VehiclePaved - Car Okay
    Fees / Permit

    Print Version
    To cave exploration
    Proceed south from Carlsbad, NM on hiway 62/180 to White's City, turning right (west) into the road leading into the park...
    Login for Mapped Driving Directions
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
    page created by imike on Oct 06 2009 6:30 pm
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