Carlsbad Caverns is a National Park in the Guadalupe Mountains in Southeast New Mexico. The caverns form a network of more than 117 known caves, all formed when sulfuric acid dissolved the surrounding limestone. One of the most impressive attractions of these caverns is the large cave chamber known as the Big Room. Carved out of natural limestone, the Big Room is almost 4,000 feet (1,220 m) long, 625 feet (191 m) wide, and 255 feet (78 m) high at the highest point. It is the third largest chamber in North America and the seventh largest in the world.
There are essentially two ways to view the caves – either by a self-guided tour, or by booking in with a tour guide.
If going for the leisurely Self-guided Tour, then there is no need to book. There are two routes – the Big Room Route and the Natural Entrance Route. Tickets are sold at the visitor centre each day, except December 25.
If you are an ecotourist looking for a little extra adventure, though, then you need to check out the Ranger Guided Tours on the Recreation.gov website. With degrees of difficulty ranging from easy to difficult and everything in between, you can decide if you want to view these beautiful caverns by elevator, or by climbing, abseiling and hiking. The choice is yours.
Another thing that will interest the green traveller who is also a nature lover is the Cavern’s Bat Flight Program. This is something not to be missed if making the trip out in summer, as every evening literally thousands of Brazilian bats make a terrific mass exodus from the cave, filling the twilight sky as they set off on the hunt for insects. If you’re an early riser, then you may want to get up to see the Pre-dawn Return of the Bats the following morning, with individual bats reaching speeds of up to 25 miles an hour as they make the dive ack down into the cave. Ecotourism at its most natural and impressive.