Carlsbad Caverns National Park is located in southern New Mexico. It features more than 119 different caves, spread out over more than 73 miles of the Chihuahuan Desert. This National Park is known for its beauty, both above and below ground. Above ground you can find high ancient sea ledges, deep rocky canyons, flowering cactus, and desert wildlife! Below ground lies some of the most beautiful caves on Earth.
The cave is located deep underneath the Guadalupe Mountains. The Guadalupe Mountains are an uplifted portion of ancient reef, which thrived along the edge of an inland sea more than 250 million years ago. Preserved in the rocks are the ancient bodies of sponges, algae, snails, nautilus and more. This fossil reef formed the caves beneath the surface. Over time, sulfuric acid dissolved into surrounding limestone, creating stunning rock formations jutting down from the cave ceilings.
Photo by Peter Jones
There are two ways to enjoy the cavern on your own either by elevator, hiking, or both. Visitors may choose to hike the steep one and a quarter mile paved trail entering through the cavern’s Natural Entrance, which leads them into the spectacular one and a quarter mile Big Room Trail. You can simply take an elevator ride from the visitor center directly to the Big Room Trail.
Photo by Peter Jones
Most of the cavern trails you can enjoy on your own and are included in the general admission fee that you will pay upon arrival to the park.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Seeking a more adventurous cave experience? Choose from among several ranger-guided tours to reserve in advance. Tours range from relatively easy strolls to physically strenuous and mentally challenging adventure tours. Ranger-guided tours require hiking boots or hiking shoes with good aggressive tread. Boots with zippers will not be permitted on the tour. No sandals, flip flops, tennis shoes, or similar footwear.
Picture by Peter Jones
The visitor center offers many services, including a bookstore, gift shop, cafeteria, restrooms, a park movie, information desk, ticket counter, and hands-on educational exhibits. It’s also where you will find the elevator to lower you into the cavern 750 feet (229 m) in less than a minute.
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Carlsbad Caverns is located at 727 Carlsbad Caverns Highway in Carlsbad, NM 88220.