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Carlsbad Caverns National Park

3225 National Parks Highway
Carlsbad, New Mexico 88220

Phone
General Park Information
(575) 785-2232
Bat Flight Information
(575) 785-3012

As you pass through the Chihuahuan Desert and Guadalupe Mountains of southeastern New Mexico and west Texas�filled with prickly pear, chollas, sotols and agaves�you might never guess there are more than 300 known caves beneath the surface. The park contains 113 of these caves, formed when sulfuric acid dissolved the surrounding limestone, creating some of the largest caves in North America.

Picnic Areas:

  • Rattlesnake Springs
  • Visitors Center
  • Cave Tours

All visitors to the park should tour the main section of the cave, the Big Room self-guided tour. The 8.2-acre Big Room is partially wheelchair accessible. The Natural Entrance self-guided tour is also very impressive, but it is also more difficult due to the steepness of the trail.

Guided tours of varying difficulties are also available�from the self-guided areas of the Big Room to crawling through narrow passageways in the Hall of the White Giant or in Spider Cave. To reserve tickets for a guided tour, call our reservation service at 1.877.444.6777.

Other Park Activities

While there are a variety of cave tours available�from the self-guided areas of the Big Room to crawling through narrow passageways in the Hall of the White Giant or in Spider Cave�there are also opportunities for hiking and backcountry camping, attending programs in the visitor center, and watching the incredible exodus of Mexican free-tail bats out of Carlsbad Cavern at dusk in the summer.

History

The park�s cultural resources represent a long and varied continuum of human use starting in prehistoric times, and illustrating many adaptations to the Chihuahuan Desert environment. 

Human activities, including prehistoric and historic American Indian occupations, European exploration and settlement, industrial exploitation, commercial and cavern accessibility development, and tourism have each left reminders of their presence, and each has contributed to the rich and diverse history of the area.

The park has two historic districts on the National Register of Historic Places�the Cavern Historic District and the Rattlesnake Springs Historic District. The park museum, including the park archives, contains about 1,000,000 cultural resource specimens that are being preserved and protected for future generations.

Legislative History
October 25, 1923 � Creation of Carlsbad Cave National Monument
April 2, 1924 � Executive Order
May 3, 1928 � Supplemental Executive Order
May 14, 1930 � Creation of Carlsbad Caverns National Park
June 17, 1930 � Executive Order

Caverns� Chronology
Carlsbad Cavern is one of over 300 limestone caves in a fossil reef laid down by an inland sea 250 to 280 million years ago. Twelve to fourteen thousand years ago, American Indians lived in the Guadalupe Mountains; some of their cooking ring sites and pictographs have been found within the present day boundaries of the park. 

By the 1500s, Spanish explorers were passing through present-day west Texas and southeastern New Mexico. Spain claimed the southwest until 1821 when Mexico revolted against her and claimed independence. Mexico, fighting the westward expansionist United States in the late 1840s, lost the southwest to the US. 

In 1850, New Mexico Territory was created, and for the next 30 years the cultural conflict between American Indians and the US government continued. Eddy, New Mexico, the future Carlsbad, was established in 1888 and New Mexico became a state in 1912.

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