Carlsbad Caverns National Park: Tips From a Recent Visitor

Bat Flight Program  

Watch a large colony of Mexican free-tailed bats fly out of Carlsbad Cavern's large natural entrance at dusk and dawn. Head to the cave before they exit at dusk for this ranger-led program at the cavern entrance. The best times to witness this unforgettable moment is July and August, when baby bats—born in early summer—and migrating bats are flying with the group.

The program runs from Memorial Day weekend through mid- to late-October and there's no charge for the bat flight program. Some programs may be canceled if the weather doesn't cooperate, so call in advance if possible. 

Insider Tip: We visited in March, and due to the warm weather many of the bats had returned earlier than expected. Keep this in mind, if you visit during the off season. Even if there isn't a scheduled bat program, you can still enjoy the beauty of on your own. Just make sure to avoid any flash photography.

More: Outdoor Photography Tips

Where to Eat and Sleep

After a long day of exploring, here's where you can fill your belly and rest your head.

No Whiner Diner

There aren't many choices for food at the caverns, but there are a number of options on the short drive to the town of Carlsbad. We opted for a locally owned restaurant called the 'No Whiner Diner' and found that it was clean, comfortable and had a great selection of food that pleased our wide spectrum of palates. 

If you spend the entire day in the park, plan to bring a picnic lunch.

More: 15 No-Cook Recipes

Camping

The only camping allowed in the park is backcountry camping. You need a free permit to pitch your tent there as well, and can get that at the Visitor's Center.

Brantley Lake State Park is just over 30 miles away and offers plenty of space to explore, eat, and sleep outside of Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is also 30 miles away, with family and group campsites in a developed campground. Learn more at NPS.gov.

More: New Mexico Camping Guide

RAFind a Campground at ReserveAmerica.com.

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About the Author

Shari Woodbury

Shari is a camping blogger and contributor for ReserveAmerica.com. Her family has been camping for 20 years; from the first trip with their 3-month-old daughter to their most recent 2000-mile National Parks camping tour with five children. They've pitched their tent on West Coast beaches, in southwest deserts, high in the Rocky Mountains, and in the woodlands of upstate New York. They love to explore the outdoors as a family and hope that by sharing some of their adventures you'll be inspired to create your own outdoor family adventures. Follow their trips at CampingKiddos.com.
Shari is a camping blogger and contributor for ReserveAmerica.com. Her family has been camping for 20 years; from the first trip with their 3-month-old daughter to their most recent 2000-mile National Parks camping tour with five children. They've pitched their tent on West Coast beaches, in southwest deserts, high in the Rocky Mountains, and in the woodlands of upstate New York. They love to explore the outdoors as a family and hope that by sharing some of their adventures you'll be inspired to create your own outdoor family adventures. Follow their trips at CampingKiddos.com.

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