By Cheri Sicard
Located in southeastern New Mexico in the Guadalupe Mountain Range, Carlsbad Caverns National Park is one of the USA’s most unique attractions.
The team from Swifty Travels has gathered five essential tips for anyone planning a visit to this national treasure. Besides tips, the video below also provides some gorgeous eye-candy footage from Carlsbad Caverns.
Essential Carlsbad Caverns National Park tips covered:
- Hours and accessibility: While the park is open seven days a week, you might be surprised to learn that the latest you can enter the caverns is 2:15 p.m. (sometimes 2:30 p.m.). However, you will need to make a reservation ahead of time. It costs $1.00 to reserve a time slot and you have 1 hour from your reserved time to enter the caverns. This crowd control policy was initiated during the pandemic but continues today. While it can be extremely hot in New Mexico, especially in the summer, the caverns remain at 56 degrees F year-round and very humid. Dress accordingly.
- Parking and pets: There is plenty of RV parking, however, no overnight stays are allowed at the park. You are not allowed to leave pets in your vehicles, but they can stay in an on-site kennel for $10.
- Food: No food or drinks (besides water) are allowed in the caverns. Visit the on-site restaurant, bring a picnic, or plan for meals before or after visiting. There is a small snack bar at the bottom of the caverns, but you cannot carry the food, you must eat it there, and it is also not always open. The restaurant in the gift shop stops serving around 3 p.m.
- Hiking and trails/accessibility: You hike a steep, paved trail 1 1/4 miles into the caverns, or there is a long-distance elevator for those unable to hike. You will descend about 750 feet. After hiking down, you can take the elevator back up (whew!). The visitor’s center will give you an idea of the expanse of the caverns that await you. If you visit in the summer be sure to stay and see the bats exit the cave in the evening! Another mile and a quarter down the flat trail, once inside, you will encounter the largest cave in North America. There’s also a shortcut.
- Where to stay: There is no camping inside Carlsbad Caverns National Park, but the video goes into lodging and campground and even restaurant options nearby.
I learned the hard way to wear runner’s liner socks under your regular socks if you are walking down. The steep slope is very hard on your feet as they continually slide forward in your shoe. I killed four nails walking down, and still had the walk through the caverns to do. It was a painful evening trying to pop and drain both big toes.
Good to know and thanks for sharing Dennis.