Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park photo by Zack Frank via Shutterstock.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, in New Mexico, features over 100 caves formed by sulfuric acid dissolution. The park’s main showstopper is the enormous Carlsbad Cavern, which visitors can explore on foot or by elevator.

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Fast Facts

State(s): New Mexico
Area: 46,766 acres (189.26 sq km) – 51st largest national park of 63
Highest Elevation: Guadalupe Ridge – 6,535 ft (1,991.87 m)
Lowest Elevation: Black River – 3,596 ft (1,096.06 m)
Date Established: May 14, 1930
Annual Visitors: 390,932 visitors in 2022
Nearest Town: Carlsbad, New Mexico

Recommended Day Hikes

Park Tracker considers a “day hike” to be a hike under 10 miles. Below we provide our top five recommendations inside the park, along with AllTrails links to the hikes.

  1. Natural Entrance Trail (1.25 mi, Strenuous) – Descends into the cavern, offering views of various formations.
  2. Big Room Trail (1.25 mi, Easy) – A flat, accessible trail around the largest single cave chamber by volume in North America.
  3. King’s Palace Tour (1.5 mi, Moderate) – Guided tour to one of the deepest parts of the cave open to the public.
  4. Left Hand Tunnel Tour (Moderate) – A candlelit tour focusing on cave formations and history.
  5. Lower Cave Tour (Moderate) – A guided tour that requires climbing ladders and crawling through tight spaces to explore less visited sections of the cave.

🧗🏻‍♂️ Popular Activities in Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad Caverns is about more than just hiking. See below for some of the best non-hiking activities to do in Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

  1. Exploring the caves on a guided tour
  2. Witnessing the evening bat flight program
  3. Photography within the caverns
  4. Attending educational ranger-led cave talks
  5. Stargazing during special night sky events

🛎️ Where to Stay Near Carlsbad Caverns National Park

While there are ample camping and vacation rental options near most US national parks, I personally highly prefer staying at Hilton-branded properties when traveling to national parks. As such, below are the five closest Hilton properties to Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

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🍔 What to Eat Near Carlsbad Caverns National Park

After hiking and exploring Carlsbad Caverns National Park, odds are high you’re going to be hungry. Here are five of the best restaurant options within and near the park.

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