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Location: Underground trails at Carlsbad Caverns NP, SW of Carlsbad.
State(s): New Mexico
To access Carlsbad Caverns National Park's only entrance road, Carlsbad Caverns Highway, turn north from US Hwy 62/180 at White's City, New Mexico—20 miles (32 km) southwest of Carlsbad, New Mexico and 145 miles (233 km) northeast of El Paso, Texas. The entrance road stretches a scenic seven miles (11 km) from the park gate at White's City to the visitor center and cavern entrance.
The underground trail system in Carlsbad Cavern is 4.2-miles long and includes 6 interconnected tour routes, with 2.61 miles of paved trail and 1.59 miles of flagged off-trail tour routes. The paved routes include the 1.25-mile long Main Corridor, the 1.2-mile long Big Room loop, and the 0.16 mile long Kings Palace loop.
The Main Corridor is a self-guided tour that drops 750 feet from the Natural Entrance to the Big Room and takes about 1 hour to walk. This tour passes Bat Cave, where several hundred thousand Brazilian Free-tailed bats roost between April and November; it then descends down the impressive Devils Pit and into a giant hall, before passing Iceberg Rock, one of the largest breakdown blocks found in any cave, and finally past the Boneyard, a mazy area that resembles a giant sponge.
The Big Room self-guided tour starts at the bottom of the elevator shaft and takes 1.5 hours to make a loop back to the elevator. This tour passes some of the most scenic and iconic places found in Carlsbad Cavern, including the giant stalagmites in the Hall of Giants, the Chandelier, the Jumping off Place, the historic National Geographic Pit, Top of the Cross, Bottomless Pit, the impressive vista at Rock of Ages, and the beautiful Longfellows Bathtub, Painted Grotto, Dolls Theater, and Chinese Theater.
The Kings Palace Tour is a Ranger-guided tour and that starts at the bottom of the elevator shaft and takes 1.5 hours to loop back to the elevator. This tour goes past the Fallen Giant, Kings Palace, Papoose Room, the giant draperies in the Queens Chamber, past Green Lake, and finally past the Veiled Statue. The Hall of White Giant tour is a 0.43 mile long Ranger-led off-trail caving tour that takes 3 hours. This tour travels through a squeeze named Matlocks Pinch and out to a large stalagmite named the White Giant before returning back in the same direction. The Left-hand Tunnel Tour is a Ranger-led 0.41-mile tour that takes 2 hours. This tour is all walking down a large hall that passes small cave lakes and a couple of formation areas before returning back in the same direction. The Lower Cave Tour is 0.75-miles long loop that requires climbing a 30-foot ladder and takes 3 hours. This tour passes the cave pearls in the Rookery and goes to the base of the Jumping Off Place, and then past the Col. Boyles Formation, before looping back to near the beginning of the trail.
Primary Surface: Not Available
Secondary Surface: None
Elevation Low Point: Not Available
Elevation High Point: Not Available
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available
Year Designated: 1983
Supporting Webpages and DocumentsWebsite: NPS Carlsbad Caverns
For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
3225 National Parks Hwy.
Carlsbad, NM 88220 https://www.nps.gov/cave/
Stopped and walked these paths on a road trip from LA to Louisiana. This was an afterthought but ended up being one of the highlights of the trip. Bring a jacket.
February 9, 2018
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