Carlsbad Caverns National Park Visitor Center

Carlsbad Caverns National Park Visitor Center

Carlsbad Caverns National Park Visitor Center
5
8:00 AM - 2:15 PM
Monday
8:00 AM - 2:15 PM
Tuesday
8:00 AM - 2:15 PM
Wednesday
8:00 AM - 2:15 PM
Thursday
8:00 AM - 2:15 PM
Friday
8:00 AM - 2:15 PM
Saturday
8:00 AM - 2:15 PM
Sunday
8:00 AM - 2:15 PM
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  • TravelMXN
    Ciudad Juarez, Mexico535 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Amazing!
    Took the natural entrance Route. It is steep but beautiful. Completed the caverns in 1hr 33min. About 3 miles. Big rooms! Next time will take the shortest route so kids don't get bored. Wear a light Jacket and bring water! Do not eat there, the food is awful better to bring snacks.
    Visited August 2023
    Written August 20, 2023
  • Chandra S
    Texas356 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Amazing Formations!!!
    Our family went to Carlsbad Caverns for my birthday. We loved the self-guided tour of the cave. So many cool formations to see! A few of our favorites were the “Whale’s Mouth”, “The Giant Dome” and the “Silent Bell.” We completed our booklets to receive our Junior Ranger badges for Carlsbad Caverns, Cave Scientist, and the Bat Biologist. We tried to attend the evening Bat Flight Program but unfortunately storms moved into the area about 30 minutes before the start time and they had to cancel for the night. Our grandkids homeschool and this was a perfect supplement to their science lesson on caves! We also saw lots of aoudad sheep when driving into the area! Would definitely recommend a visit to the Caverns!
    Visited August 2023
    Travelled with family
    Written September 7, 2023
  • Christina B
    Louisiana6,207 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Amazing!! A Must See !!
    I was a bit hesitant to take the natural entrance because of my knee…. BUT so glad we did. We just took our time. Once you get past the opening you see there’s just so much more along the 1 1/4 mile walk down. Then the Big Room … there is just SO much to see. We have seen a lot of caves across the US and I think if I combined them all it still would not add up to this one. It’s absolutely amazing. I did try for the kings palace but that sold out instantly even though I was waiting for the minute they were released. I took so many photos and after thinning down I still have almost 200. We stayed for the Bat Flight/watch. We had time inbetween so went back to town to eat as the restaurant was out of everything!! It worked out great. We got back we’ll before the time given. That was something to see … unbelievable to see thousands upon thousands come from the cave hole you went down Into. They come from areas we did not go. So no reason to be scared. We didn’t see any while we were down there. We spent 3 hours from natural cave entrance, big room & elevator up. Then another 1 1/2 hours for the bats. If you hold a park pass it will get you in for free. You still need to reserve you time slot though for $1 each.
    Visited October 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written October 12, 2023
  • FGU
    Laguna Hills, California191 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    A Must See!
    There are guided tours and there is the self guided tour. We took the self guided tour and we were stupendously amazed. You need to make a reservation for each tour. Visiting the caverns is as moving as other National parks. I overheard the Park Rangers patiently talking to younger kids. Fairly nearby is the town of Carlsbad with ample lodging, shopping and dining options. We stayed at the La Quinta Inn and were very pleased
    Visited October 2023
    Travelled with family
    Written October 22, 2023
  • Stock Guru
    4 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    A journey into the depths of the Earth's soul!
    Exploring those colossal underground chambers was like stepping into another world – the stalactites and stalagmites felt like nature's artistry. The hike down the Natural Entrance was a workout, but the anticipation grew with each twist and turn. The Big Room was the grand finale, a massive underground space that left me feeling like a tiny speck in the universe. But the most magical part was the bat flight at sunset – seeing thousands of bats emerge from the caverns like a swirling tornado was a spectacle I'll never forget. It's not just a cave; it's an otherworldly adventure that fills you with awe for the wonders of the natural world.
    Visited March 2023
    Travelled with family
    Written October 25, 2023
  • JDFgirl
    Waxahachie, Texas75 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Some tips on planning...
    November is the perfect time to visit if you aren't set on seeing the bats (ends in October). We had spans of 20 to 30 minutes at a time in the cave that we did not see any other person. This made the experience so much more enjoyable. Figuring out how to get the most out of your visit is a little confusing. I'll try to simplify it here. Needless to say, this is a stunning system of caves. The two main choices are the self guided tour and the Kings Palace tour. The self guided tour is the basic tour that EVERYONE should go on, even if you purchase a separate specialized tour (Kings Palace tour). The Kings Palace tour is a Ranger guided tour of about 24 people that goes into a part of the cave system that is not included in the self guided tour. For EITHER tour, it is HIGHLY recommended you get online and reserve a time slot. The time slot reservations are not the tickets. These are just the reservations for you to have a guaranteed place in line, so to speak, to actually purchase the tickets at the visitors center. The self guided time slots should be reserved way in advance (months?). The Kings palace tour ticket time slots become available 30 days in advance. The time slots get reserved quickly, sometimes the same day they become available. The self quided tour and Kings Palace tour take about 90 minutes each. As far as getting into the cave you can choose the natural entrance which will add an hour to your time getting down into cave (keep that in mind if you are doing a timed Kings Palace tour) or the elevator that gets you straight to the start of the self guided tour and the waiting area to start the Kings Palace tour. The natural entrance has its own special features. All told, if you did the natural entrance, Kings Palace tour and self guided tour, you could spend 4 hours in the cave system easily. Personally, the self guided tour was the most enjoyable. The Kings Palace tour is a "hurry up and wait" scenario. You speed from one spot to the next, unable to take pictures, and then you get to a spot and stand for 10 to 15 minutes while the Ranger gives some facts. I won't comment on our Ranger other than to say I wouldn't take the Kings Palace tour again. Wear comfortable no slip shoes. Bring a jacket. You can bring water into the cave (no flavored water - just water). There are lots of picnic tables outside to enjoy a lovely picnic.
    Visited November 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written November 13, 2023
  • Henry A
    Hays, Kansas650 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    On my bucket list since long before I ever heard of a bucket list
    This has been on my bucket list since long before I ever heard of a bucket list. We are glad that we went. Due to some limited mobility we just used the elevator from the visitor's center. This allowed us to take our time and set our own pace. There is a lot to see but you don't have to see it all or do a lot to appreciate and enjoy the experience.
    Visited November 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written November 18, 2023
  • ExplorerRUs
    26 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Amazing 5 star experience that is a must see! Door to the wonders of the Cave below.
    Overall this is a 5 star experience! It was good thing that we reserved online for our 8:30 spot. We strongly recommend reserving online before you get here. When we got to the visitor center, there was a long line of people waiting to purchase. We got on the first ride down the elevator 750 feet down. We came out of the elevator door to begin our self guided tour. There were so many great views to take pictures. Everything was a phenomenal experience. The best views were the magnificent Big Room, Lion’s Tail, the Doll Theater, the Three Giants, the Rock Of Ages, and seeing the original rope and ladders from the early explorers. We learned that Carlsbad Caverns is a World Heritage Site as of 1995. The 2 gift shops were fantastic. There were lots of souvenirs. We missed seeing the video show, the informational kiosks and the junior ranger kid’s corner. They looked quite interesting and well made. Visitor center had a restaurant that was ok. Slow service and understaffed.
    Visited December 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written December 31, 2023
  • phvi2617
    Anaheim, California631 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Spectacular and well-managed park
    Carlsbad Caverns is a natural wonder, and it is managed very well by the park service. It is best to get a reservation for cavern entrance (entries are between 8:30 AM-2:30 PM), and I was glad to get an early time, when the cave was close to empty. Even with a reservation, you'll still need to check in at the visitor center and pay a $15 entry fee, unless you have a pass. If you're able, be sure to take the natural entry down, rather than the elevator. It's very steep but paved, and it offers awesome views that are different than in the Big Room. At the bottom, there is one self-guided loop that takes you through all the amazing highlights. There's no need to bring a flashlight, and with so many spectacular formations, be sure to take your time. The excellent visitor center has exhibits, a bookstore, a separate gift shop, and a cafe. Overall, this is a great experience and a real treasure in the National Park Service.
    Visited January 2024
    Travelled solo
    Written January 20, 2024
  • luv2vacationIowa
    257 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Huge great room with Tons of features
    We bought an annual national parks pass which allowed Us in for free. We then chose the free self-guided tour. We really enjoyed going midweek in January as there were not many people there no lines to get in. This is the first cave tour that I've been on without a guide and I must say, it is very nice. It is quiet, and you can go at your own pace. This cave is 10 times as good as Mammoth caves. Jewel cave was as good as this one only minerals were shinier.
    Visited January 2024
    Travelled as a couple
    Written January 28, 2024
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as waiting time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

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5.0
5.0 of 5 bubbles1,237 reviews
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kevan j
Norman, OK1,484 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2022
Excellent visitor's center when compared to others. Lots of parking, the people are friendly, and the cave tour processing was very efficient and easy to follow. Because they currently limit the number of persons going into the cave, we had purchased a reserved spot online ($1 each). Our time was 9:30, but we arrived early at 8:30 and they told us to go ahead early. Cool! The exhibits were great as well with a very informative film explaining how the caves got here in the first place. The gift shop is pretty good. It does carry lots of useless merchandise unrelated to Carlsbad Caverns, but it also had some good stuff. I also like that the restaurant maintains its charm from earlier days.
Written July 20, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Minder53
Washington DC, DC20 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2022
Prior to visiting the Carlsbad Caverns, I made online reservations which cost $2 each). As it turned out, it really wasn't needed. On the day we went (Thursday), there was hardly a crowd.

Both hubby and I got in for free because of our National Parks military pass. Normally, entrance fee is around $15. To go on the tour, you can either walk down to the cavern or take the elevator. We went with the elevator.

We opted for the self-guided tour. I'm glad too because we could take our time looking at all of the wonderous parts of the cavern. Let me tell you, it's huge. Take lots of pictures. It took us about 1.5 hours to go through it. They say it's 56 degrees, so I wore my coat. You can also take guided tours which cost money.

After we did the tour, we watched two movies about the caverns. There are also a variety of pictures to read about the caverns in the lobby area.

The gift shop is very nice with a variety of items you can buy. Attached to the gift shop is a somewhat expensive cafeteria.

We were unable to do the 9-mile scenic drive because it was blocked off.

We came back at 6:45 p.m. to listen to the ranger in the bat amphitheater and to watch the bats come out of the cave. The ranger did an excellent job. You can leave the park and then come back. The bat show is free.

Overall, it was a great day to visit.
Written September 9, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Erick
Fort Worth, TX49 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2021 • Family
We came here with my 8 year old son and the whole thing was fun and memorable. Make sure and get there early. They only sell so many tickets per day. You have a choice between walking down to the caverns or taking the elevator, but only based on availability of tickets. We only had the option of the elevator because the walking tickets were all gone. The caves are over 700 feet under so if you're not up to that kind of trek down then use the elevator.

Even though the caverns are lit, some kind of light would be beneficial to take. The path can get dark in some areas and will be hard to see. Be prepared for tons of picture-taking opportunities. As others have said, it's worth it to get the self guided audio tour since the guided tours with a ranger are currently unavailable.

We had to wait for about an hour before we were allowed to go down but there was plenty to do between the restaurant, 2 gift shops, and scenic views just outside the center. We did not have pets but we did notice they offer kennel services if you need them.
Written March 14, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Grover R
Pensacola, FL21,818 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2021
The Visitor Center is where you will get your tickets. Be sure to get there early while they are limiting tickets. We visited during spring break and we arrived at 7:00 to get 11:00 tickets, number 500 out of 1,000.

Despite limiting the caverns, the Visitor's Center is open to everyone. After getting our tickets, we shopped in the gift shop and got some breakfast at the cafe. In addition it has restrooms and a museum you can see for about 15 minutes waiting to go to the natural entrance. The best part is a 3-D miniature representation of the entire cavern which shows to scale all that you will on the hike down and in the Big Room.

Again be there early to get tickets and enjoy the amenities before you descend.
Written March 28, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Schmidtie
Denver, CO37 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2020
We visited the park on Labor Day which is one of their busiest. Due to COVID they are limiting group sizes between 25 and 40. We arrived to the ticket office at 7am for an 8 am opening and had about 150 people ahead of us. Bought our tix at 8:45 am for a 10am entry. I'm not one to to stand in long lines but this was worth every minute. It was the most spectacular cave I have ever seen and I've seen several.

We were in the cave two hours and went at our own pace as it self guided. The walkway down is steep in areas and will be hard on you if you have bad knees or are physically challenged but otherwise fine - they are places to sit down along the way.

I was a little bummed that the Ranger guided tour to another part of the cave was closed but after two hours in a cave you do get some "museum fatigue" so I felt like I had seen plenty. The bat viewing amphitheater is closed as there is no way to properly distance in that space.

In the cave others were respectful of social distance and wearing masks when near others. While waiting in line to get tix many did not respect proper distance or wear masks as they nudged closer and closer.

The other wait is for the elevator after the tour. It is the only way out and it took about 30 minutes to wait for it. Everyone had masks on for this but it is hard to distance due to space constraints.
Written September 8, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Gary M
4 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2023
We visited Carlsbad Caverns on January 2, 2023 and had a wonderful visit. Ranger Kevin and Ranger Nick were fabulous and really made the visit even more special. We reserved tickets for the Kings Palace tour which we highly recommend. Ranger Nick narrated the journey and interacted with our 20 person group in a very special way. A natural tour guide with deep knowledge! We enjoyed a quick lunch in the cafeteria which was less crowded, more tasty and even less expensive than we expected! After lunch we did the natural park entrance walk down to the Big Room which was quite an amazing walk...you can walk via the natural entrance going up, down or both! We walked down and took the elevator up and were very happy with our decision! It is both steeper and longer than expected! Gift shop has a wide assortments of items but they are not shy about charging for their merchandise. It seemed more expensive than most of the NPS gift shops we've browsed. We stayed in our RV in the town of Carlsbad which was about a 25-30 minute drive to the Cave and visitors center. You an stay much closer in White City which has an RV Park, a few small trinket shops, restaurant, motel and a gas station. Carlsbad has more restaurants and shopping along with lots of modular housing developments, trailers and campgrounds which seem to cater more to transient oil field workers than tourists. Most of the hiking trails at Carlsbad are currently closed due to flood damage which considering it was cold, raw and very, very windy didn't matter much to us this visit. All in all a very special place and should be on your "must-see" list!
Written January 2, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

TCW
Stevensville, MT525 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2021 • Couples
We came to see the bats BUT there are None here during winter. We were told the bats have All flown south to Mexico because of the cold.
We did see the Amazing caves especially the Big Room. The walkway is paved and has a continuous handrail because it is dark, (bring a small flashlight). There are signs with numbers every so often and we discovered after the tour that we should have gotten the audio tour guide equipment ($5) but the guy at the visitor center where we bought the tickets didn't mention it, sad we missed out. Had we known we would have gotten it because the tour was self guided. They only allow one family at a time in the elevator because of covid-19 so the line was pretty long.
Written February 10, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

PandaHouston
Houston, TX6,128 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2021
If you've booked a ticket to enter the Carlsbad Caverns, the Visitor Center will be your first stop. You can buy tickets online at recreation.gov or in person at the Visitor Center. However, be aware it's possible tickets sell out if you choose to buy in person. We purchased our tickets online for $1 per person. You do have to pick a time slot. Once you book your time slot, you have 1 hour to enter the cave. After you enter, there is no limit on how long you can stay.

We came on Wednesday, October 27. It was fairly busy on that day. We made our reservations for 11:30 am. The interesting thing was that we tried to enter at 11:15 am and the ranger would not let us until it was 11:30 am.

At the ticket counter, when we were confirming our tickets, they asked to see our Annual Park Pass. They also ask if you want to walk or take the elevator. We chose to walk. We took the elevator when we exited. If you can, I would suggest walking in thru the Natural Entrance, 1.25 miles long to the Big Room.

We spent 2 hours at Carlsbad and had a great time. The Big Room is very impressive.
Written November 7, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Mike H
Phoenix, AZ2,017 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2021
We lived in near Kartchner Caverns and had heard from Guest at our B and B about Carlsbad being so much bigger. We wanted to compare the two and we finally got here on our second attempt. We got snowed out last October. The Visitors center has some excellent displays and the rangers are very informative. The place only allows so many people down at a time and when tickets are gone you can't get it. You can make reservations online so that helps.
Written June 25, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

JDFgirl
Waxahachie, TX75 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2023 • Couples
November is the perfect time to visit if you aren't set on seeing the bats (ends in October). We had spans of 20 to 30 minutes at a time in the cave that we did not see any other person. This made the experience so much more enjoyable. Figuring out how to get the most out of your visit is a little confusing. I'll try to simplify it here. Needless to say, this is a stunning system of caves. The two main choices are the self guided tour and the Kings Palace tour. The self guided tour is the basic tour that EVERYONE should go on, even if you purchase a separate specialized tour (Kings Palace tour). The Kings Palace tour is a Ranger guided tour of about 24 people that goes into a part of the cave system that is not included in the self guided tour. For EITHER tour, it is HIGHLY recommended you get online and reserve a time slot. The time slot reservations are not the tickets. These are just the reservations for you to have a guaranteed place in line, so to speak, to actually purchase the tickets at the visitors center. The self guided time slots should be reserved way in advance (months?). The Kings palace tour ticket time slots become available 30 days in advance. The time slots get reserved quickly, sometimes the same day they become available. The self quided tour and Kings Palace tour take about 90 minutes each. As far as getting into the cave you can choose the natural entrance which will add an hour to your time getting down into cave (keep that in mind if you are doing a timed Kings Palace tour) or the elevator that gets you straight to the start of the self guided tour and the waiting area to start the Kings Palace tour. The natural entrance has its own special features. All told, if you did the natural entrance, Kings Palace tour and self guided tour, you could spend 4 hours in the cave system easily. Personally, the self guided tour was the most enjoyable. The Kings Palace tour is a "hurry up and wait" scenario. You speed from one spot to the next, unable to take pictures, and then you get to a spot and stand for 10 to 15 minutes while the Ranger gives some facts. I won't comment on our Ranger other than to say I wouldn't take the Kings Palace tour again. Wear comfortable no slip shoes. Bring a jacket. You can bring water into the cave (no flavored water - just water). There are lots of picnic tables outside to enjoy a lovely picnic.
Written November 13, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Carlsbad Caverns National Park Visitor Center - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

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