carlsbad

  • Southeastern New Mexico
  • Established May 14, 1930
  • 73 square miles

The massive cave system that is Carlsbad Caverns—consisting of 300 separate rooms—is one of the largest caverns in the world. The largest room, called, simply, Big Room, is the largest known underground cavity in the Western Hemisphere. According to America’s National Parks, “it is so vast that it could contain more than a dozen football fields; it is so tall that you could build a 30-story building inside it.” And the immensity of the caverns are just part of the story. Inside the cave system are all kinds of stalactite and stalagmite formations, all of them created by limestone-carrying water dripping or evaporating within the caverns. In other words, water with limestone sediment in it ran through the caves, or evaporated from them, or both, and left behind the calcite that solidified into magical structures . There are “soda straws” that are called that because they do not taper or widen from top to bottom. There are ribbons, lily pads, and shelves. There are honey-colored massive domes that reach towards the ceilings of the rooms.

And then there are the bats. The Brazilian free-tailed bats are how the caverns were discovered in the first place around 1900. Someone spotted what at first looked like a massive dust cloud or tornado rising from the ground, and in fact turned out to be 400,000 bats flying up out of the caverns at sunset. Holy smokes! At least that’s probably what the first folks who saw the bats thought. In fact, the bats leave the cave precisely 28 minutes after sunset every night—though no one knows why. Besides the bats, lots of other insects, crustaceans, centipedes, spiders, and other invertebrates inhabit the Carlsbad Caverns. Cave crickets, like the bats, leave the cave nightly, and in this way provide food to the other creatures back underground.

National Parks Revealed can help create a wonderful adventure within and around Carlsbad Caverns. Some folks will want to take themselves on the self-guided tours of this vast underground world. We also work with guides who can take guests to lesser-known spots, and for the very adventurous, there are guided tours to hard-to-get-to caves that require squeezing and belly-crawls. As always, we arrange for luxurious accommodations in the area and can put together an itinerary perfect for your group.