Carlsbad Caverns Natural Entrance Review
Carlsbad Caverns Natural Entrance continues to leave us absolutely awestruck. It is a true wonder of nature and a destination that needs to be added to your bucket list.
Changes have been made over the years to improve access and to slow down the impact of visitors; I hope that the caverns are not too easily accessible as the impact of visitors is starting to be evident.
There are volunteers that work in the big room to remove coins and other objects from pools to try to minimize the human impact.
The caverns are lit throughout and there are rails along all paths have been installed to improve safety. Before entering the cave, a ranger reviews visitor’s rules to protect the caves and to maintain the cave experience.
However, all the additional lighting does not enhance the cave experience. However, Carlsbad Caverns remains a wonder worth seeing. Walking into the natural entrance is a strenuous, downhill hike. Strollers are not allowed; I recommend not visiting with infants or toddlers who cannot walk.
The panoramic view from the Visitor’s Center affords a spectacular view of the New Mexico desert and one of the highlights. Well worth the trip. We hope moving forward that the current agenda in Washington, seemingly without an environmental conscious, find funds to maintain our national parks as once gone they’re gone forever.
There is no lodging available within Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Camping is allowed in the backcountry only, and requires a free permit which is issued at the park’s visitor center when you arrive (not reservable in advance).
Seven miles from the visitor center there is a small town of White’s City that has a campground and ammenities. The town of Carlsbad, New Mexico also has numerous lodging and campground options. Carlsbad is located 20 miles north-east of the park, on highway 62/180. For a list of businesses, please contact the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce at (575) 887-6516 or visit www.carlsbadchamber.com.
The park is surrounded by Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land and they allow permit-free camping. Check with BLM for regulations.
You may also consider camping at Guadalupe Mountains National Park, our “sister park” that is about 40 minutes away across the border of Texas.
During visitor center hours, you may dine at Carlsbad Caverns Trading Company, located at the west end of the building, past the gift shop. Visitors may choose a sandwich, salad, yogurt, or other snack from the grab-and-go coolers or have a hot sandwich or meal made to order at the hot/cold food line. A variety of bottled, fountain and hot drinks are also available.
While you are touring Carlsbad Cavern, you may take a break in the underground rest area, located at the base of the elevators. This area has restrooms, drinking fountains, and a limited snack bar. Food purchased in the underground snackbar must be consumed there.
Please keep in mind that in order to protect the cave and the wildlife – any consumption of food and drink, except plain, unflavored water, is prohibited in any cave except in the underground snackbar in Carlsbad Cavern. Diabetics and persons with other medical conditions requiring them to eat or drink while in the cave are permitted on a limited basis. Food use has the potential for cave contamination, increased litter, and increased animal attraction into cave areas not usually frequented by wildlife.
If you brought food with you, picnic tables are located at the east end of the visitor center parking lot and at Rattlesnake Springs Picnic Area, about 15 miles from the visitor center. Please check with a park ranger for fire restrictions before using a grill or camp stove.
Outside of the park, dining is available 7 miles from the visitor center in White’s City or in the town of Carlsbad about 30 minutes away. For a list of restaurants, contact the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce at (575) 887-6516 or visit www.carlsbadchamber.com.
New Mexico 88220, USA