Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Carlsbad Caverns National Park is located in southeastern New Mexico as part of the Guadalupe Mountains. The boundaries of the park cover an area of 73 square miles (189 sq km).
Only 1/3 of the park has been explored with the remainder of the area set aside as wilderness areas. This is done to make certain that the habitat will forgo any changes.
Carlsbad Caverns features a massive limestone chamber that is affectionately known as the Big Room. It stretches across 4,000 feet (1,220 m) and is 625 feet (191 m) wide. The Big Room reaches a height of 255 feet (78 m).
This Big Room statistically registers as the 5th largest chamber in North America and it ranks 28th around the world. The cave system sits amongst a limestone bed.
The Big Room features a variety of geological cavern features. A visit to the cave will allow travelers to see stalactites, stalagmites, columns, soda straws, draperies, helictites, and popcorn.
The Bat Cave is next to the main entrance. This part of the caverns is home to the largest collection of bats. The name of this chamber was attributed to this bat population.
There are several other rooms that are part of the collective cavern area. Some of these are not accessible, but here is a list of all of the rooms:
- Bat Room
- Bell Cord Room
- Bifrost Room
- Big Room aka Hall of the Giants
- Chocolate High
- Green Lake Room
- Guadalupe Room
- Hall of the White Giant
- Halloween Hall
- King’s Palace
- Lake of the Clouds
- Left Hand Tunnel
- Mabel’s Room
- Mystery Room
- New Mexico Room
- New Section
- Papoose Room
- Queen’s Chamber
- Spirit World
- Talcum Passage
- The Rookery
- Underground Lunchroom
The Underground Lunchroom is an actually constructed cafeteria constructed in the 1950s. This is also the location where the elevators deliver travelers from the visitor center.
There are around 120 caves throughout the park. Only three of these caves are accessible by the public. Carlsbad Caverns is the most famous and well developed and the namesake of the park.
Slaughter Canyon Cave and Spider Cave are the other two accessible but less developed caves. They are used for more adventurous caving tours. The caves are not the only natural facets of the park. There are trails and lookout vistas above ground as well which provides visitors with an opportunity to get exercise while engaging the splendor of the New Mexico landscapes.
In addition to the bats, there are over 300 species of birds above the caves available for bird-watchers. Cougar, coyote, foxes, bobcat, mule deer, skunk, badger, and weasels are some of the wildlife that can be experienced in the area. There are over 65 mammalian species with another 55 species of amphibians and reptiles.
The abundant and stunning cavern features are the highlight of the park. The Big Room, affectionately also known as the Hall of Giants, is the largest chamber covering a floor space of 357,469 square feet (33,210 sq m). This is one of the most picturesque caves in the world.
Magnificent examples of stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, draperies, and more are found throughout the cave. The lights provided by the infrastructure create picturesque cavern landscapes.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park Trails
There are varying trails that meander through the caves as well as around the park. Here is a look at some of the most commonly used trails:
Carlsbad Caverns Nature Trail
This is a 1.2-mile (1.9 km) loop trail that meanders through the main and most well-developed cave in the park.
Slaughter Canyon Cave Trail
This is a 1-mile trail that provides a more adventurous loop trail through the cave.
Walnut Canyon Trail
This is an easy short 0.3-mile (0.48 km) trail that delivers visitors to a scenic view of the park area.
Juniper Ridge Trail
This is a 1.9-mile (3.05 km) trail that offers some picturesque views of the surrounding landscapes.
North Slaughter Canyon Trail
This a moderate rated trail that travels 11.1 miles (17.9 km) that meanders the wilderness of the cavern area. This trail is used to engage the outdoors and wildflowers during the blooming season. It features an elevation gain of 1,541 feet (469.7 m).
Yucca Canyon Trail
This is a 3.8-mile (6.11 km) moderate trail that allows visitors a chance to explore some of the natural landscapes of the region.
Carlsbad Caverns Highlights
- Carlsbad Caverns
- Hall of the Giants
- AllTrails, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, https://www.alltrails.com/parks/us/new-mexico/carlsbad-caverns-national-park, retrieved June 2020.
- Britannica, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, https://www.britannica.com/place/Carlsbad-Caverns-National-Park, retrieved June 2020.
- National Park Service, Carlsbad Caverns, https://www.nps.gov/cave/index.htm, retrieved June 2020.
- National Parks Conservation Association, Carlsbad Caverns, https://www.npca.org/parks/carlsbad-caverns-national-park, retrieved June 2020.
- New Mexico True, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, https://www.newmexico.org/places-to-visit/regions/southeast/carlsbad-caverns/, retrieved June 2020.
- Travel and Leisure, Carlsbad Caverns National Park Has Bats, Underground Caves, and More – Here’s How to Plan your Visit, https://www.travelandleisure.com/trip-ideas/national-parks/carlsbad-caverns-national-park, retrieved June 2020.
- UNESCO, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/721/, retrieved June 2020.