Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Things to Do
Carlsbad Caverns National Park offers a variety of activities including
- Cave Tours (guided and unguided)
- Bat flight viewing
- Surface ranger programs
- Wildlife observations
- Educational Seminars
- Hiking/Backpacking - The park has an incredible diversity of plants and animals. A short walk along any park trail provides enriching experiences for anyone willing to move away from the parking lots and buildings. Most of the trails are marked only by rock cairns (rocks piled or stacked into a noticeable heap), so we recommend using a topographic map.
- Picnicking (Rattlesnake Springs)
- Bird-watching (Rattlesnake Springs)
The basic self-guided cave tour of the Big Room takes 1 to 2 hours. For a more complete visit including several guided cave tours and surface ranger programs, plan on visiting for 1 to 3 days
In addition to cave tours, rangers provide a variety of talks, walks, demonstrations, and slide programs daily at the visitor center. The Bat Flight Program occurs daily between Memorial Day weekend and late October. Program titles and times change daily and are displayed at the visitor center. Typical programs include:
- Slide Programs
- Beneficial Bats
- Lechuguilla: Underground Wilderness
- Guadalupe Mountains: Above and Below
- Bountiful Desert
- Phantom Shadows
- On Rope: A Climbing Demonstration
- Hanging Like a Spider in the Night
- Light and Exploration
- Ranger Talks
- The Day Shift: Cave Swallows at Carlsbad Cavern
- The Roadrunner
- Nature Walks
- Oak Springs Hike
- The Second Natural Entrance
Hundreds of thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats, whirling counterclockwise, spill forth from a gigantic hole in the earth and are silhouetted against a colorful desert sky ... this is the bat flight experience at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. From early May through October, Mexican free-tail bats leave Carlsbad Cavern at sunset to feed on night-flying insects in the nearby Black and Pecos River valleys. You are invited to witness this spectacular display as the bats leave the cave.
Prior to the evening flight of the bats, a talk is given at the cavern entrance by a park ranger. Since the starting time of the talk varies with sunset, it is best to call the park (505-785-2232) or check at the visitor center desk for the exact time. Programs may be canceled in the event of inclement weather. The bat flight talks are normally scheduled from Memorial Day weekend through the end of September. There is no charge for the bat flight program. In late October or early November the bats migrate to Mexico for the winter.
The best bat flights normally occur in August and September. At this time baby bats, born in the early summer, join the flight along with migrating bats from colonies further north.
The daily pre-dawn return of the bats is different from the evening exit flights but are just as impressive. Early risers can see the bats as they re-enter Carlsbad Cavern with spectacular dives from heights of hundreds of feet. Individual bats diving in from every direction may reach speeds of 40 km/h (25 mph) or more.
Bat Flight Breakfast
A bat flight breakfast is held annually, usually on the second Thursday in August, from 5:00 am to 7:00 am. Park employees sponsor this breakfast once each year to encourage visitors to watch the bats as they return to the cavern. A special program is given and other activities may be scheduled as staffing permits. A reasonable charge is made for the breakfast. Regular cavern fees apply for entry into the cave following the breakfast.
3225 National Parks Highway
Carlsbad, NM 88220
Related DesertUSA Pages
- How to Turn Your Smartphone into a Survival Tool
- 26 Tips for Surviving in the Desert
- Death by GPS
- 7 Smartphone Apps to Improve Your Camping Experience
- Maps Parks and More
- Desert Survival Skills
- How to Keep Ice Cold in the Desert
- Desert Rocks, Minerals & Geology Index
- Preparing an Emergency Survival Kit
- Get the Best Hotel and Motel Rates
Share this page on Facebook:
DesertUSA Newsletter -- We send articles on hiking, camping and places to explore, as well as animals, wildflower reports, plant information and much more. Sign up below or read more about the DesertUSA newsletter here. (It's Free.)