Corbitt's National Parks
     Carlsbad Caverns
               National Park


1923: National Monument

1930: National Park

1995: World Heritage Site

Size: 46,766 acres

2008 visitors: 400,381

Stamp: ?

Rating (1-5): Unrated

About the Site

Located in southeastern New Mexico, this park preserves more than 100 caves within a Permian-age fossil reef. Lechuguilla Cave is the nation's deepest limestone cave, at 1,567 feet, and third longest. The underground passageways of Carlsbad Cavern contain an unmatched display of huge chambers, icicle forests of stalagmites and stalactites, and beautiful cave formations. Apart from the dramatic and huge caves, visitors will see thousands of Mexican free-tail bats. They stream out of a crevasse at dusk in thick black clouds, in search of insect food.

There are many more caves beneath the desert. The Park Service even has a theater and cafeteria inside.

The Guadalupe Mountains above the caves are the exposed remains of a limestone reef that was formed about 250 million years ago. The main force in creating the caves was hydrogen sulfide from the oil and gas deposits to the east. It mixed with the water in the caves and created a weak sulfuric acid that easily dissolves limestone. The chambers formed by this action are also decorated with stalagmites, stalactites, cave popcorn, and helicites.

What You're Going to See

Sure there are about 94 caves below ground, but there's also many things to see in the the rugged landscape of the Chihuahuan Desert as well. The range in elevation results in a variety of plants and animals. A total of 740 species of plants, 64 species of mammals, 44 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 331 species of birds have been identified here.

There's plenty to do, above- and below-ground. Visitors can attend bat-flight programs, or go hiking, picnicking, and of course tour the caves. The best time to see the bats is between March and October. It's cold and damp inside the caves, so wear tennis shoes and bring a sweater.

There are two self-guided tours of the caverns. One is a one-mile paved trail using the traditional explorer's route. It descends 750 feet on a steep, winding path, and is the most rigorous of the tours. Thankfully, an elevator is available for a return trip to the visitors center. The second tour descends on an elevator for a tour of the Big Room. There are audio handsets to help explain what you're seeing. There are also other Ranger-led tours throughout the day

Personal Observations

Well ... someday.

Getting There

From Albuquerque, go south on I-25 for 88 miles to exit 139. Take US 380 east for 153 miles to Roswell. Take US 285 south for 77 miles to Carlsbad, the go southwest on US 62/180 for about 20 miles to the park entrance.

From El Paso, Texas, take US 62/180 east for about 144 miles to the park entrance.

Nearby Attractions

The only Park within 100 miles is Guadalupe Mountains National Park, 30 miles or so to the southwest in Texas. Roswell, of crashed alien spaceship fame, is about 90 miles to the north.

Not visited yet.