Seasons, Fees and Reservations
Carlsbad Caverns National Park is open every day of the year except Christmas Day. Hours for cave entry and the park’s visitor center vary, but generally, it’s a good idea to get an early start. Summer hours are slightly longer. Check the park’s website for current conditions and other announcements. The standard entry fee for adults is $6, and is good for three consecutive days. Children age 15 and younger enter free.
There is no lodging at Carlsbad Caverns, nor is RV or auto camping allowed. The only camping that is permitted in the park is in the backcountry. Entrance to the backcountry requires visitors to pick up a free backcountry pass at the visitor center. Camping in the wilderness must be done in accordance with applicable park regulations.
Caving is one of the most popular activities at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Six ranger-guided tours are offered to Kings Palace, Left Hand Tunnel, Slaughter Canyon Cave, Lower Cave, Hall of the White Giant and Spider Cave. Expeditions vary in duration and difficulty level, but each presents a unique perspective on the caverns’ many famous rock formations. Underground globes of rock populate the Lake of the Clouds, the lowest known point in Carlsbad Caverns. Scenic Queen’s Chamber awaits visitors traveling the Kings Palace route.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park includes the Rattlesnake Springs Historic District, an oasis in the Chihuahuan Desert that is a great spot for birdwatching. The region’s more than 300 recorded bird species has won it recognition from the National Audubon Society.
In addition to its famous caves, Carlsbad Caverns National Park has more than 33,000 acres of desert scrubland. It is one of the few places in North America where this kind of ecosystem is protected. The Chihuahuan Desert is the most biologically diverse desert in the western hemisphere, and is home to more species of cacti than any other desert. The wilderness is open for use by the public for hikes and backcountry camping. Prospective visitors should familiarize themselves with the park’s backcountry use guide before planning their trip. Popular hiking areas include Yucca Canyon, Slaughter Canyon and Double Canyon.