Carlsbad Caverns National Park is located in the Guadalupe Mountains in the southeast of New Mexico. The park is open all year round except on Christmas Day. There are two main entrances to the park that are on the National Register of Historic Places, Caverns Historic District and Rattlesnake Springs Historic District. Nearly two thirds of the park is designated as a wilderness area to ensure that there are no changes to the habitat. The main attraction of the park is Carlsbad Cavern.
The cavern was discovered by a boy of sixteen Jim White in the late 1800’s. An inscription with his name and the date were discovered deep within the caves in the 1980’s. The young boy was riding his horse roping up stray cattle and mending fences when what appeared to be a dark black tornado caught his eye. What he actually witnessed was not a tornado but a stream of bats exiting what would come to be known as Carlsbad Caverns.
There are 117 caves located in Carlsbad with three that are open for public tours. The caves are lit with electric lights have paved paths and elevators. There are two caves that are not developed and these are part of the adventure caving tours that are offered with guides. The largest cave is referred to as the Big Room. This large chamber is limestone and 4,000 feet long, just over 600 feet wide and is just over 250 feet at its highest point. This makes Big Room the third largest cave in all of North America and the seventh largest in the entire world.
One of the most exciting events to take part in at Carlsbad is viewing one of the bat flights that originally gave away the location of this national park. This event takes place right around sunset and you can partake in one from Memorial Day weekend until the middle of October. If you come in July and August you will be able to see some baby bats. The bat flight out of the caves is astonishing as it appears to be a giant vortex when in actuality it is hundreds to thousands of bats exiting the caves. If you come in the morning before the dawn you can witness the bats returning to the cave. There are nearly a half a million people that visit Carlsbad annually. There is camping in the vicinity in the back country. If you plan to camp here you will need a permit from the visitor center.
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