The Big Room is aptly named. It is the largest single cave chamber in North America, covering an area equal to 6.3 football fields. Overall, this is an easy paved trail, with just a couple of areas that are moderately steep. The trail leads you through a myriad of awe inspiring, yet delicate cave formations. Much of the Big Room trail is accessible by wheelchair, with assistance. The park does not provide wheelchairs. If you prefer a shorter walk, you can take the bypass route which shortens the trail by 1/2 and avoids the steeper inclines. Even if you only walk a portion of the trail, you will still experience all of the beauty that is the Big Room.
You can reach the Big Room self guided tour via the elevator from the Visitor Center or down the 1.25 mile (2 km) Natural Entrance trail (see above). No strollers are allowed in the Big Room.
Audio Guides are available from the Carlsbad Caverns Guadalupe Mountains Association (CCGMA) Bookstore, located in the visitor center. You can rent an audio guide for $5.00 and as you tour the natural entrance route or the Big Room, it will be like having your own personal ranger with you.
You will learn about the rich human history and understand how the cave and its spectacular decorations make Carlsbad Caverns unique from most other caves in the world. The audio guides come in a variety of languages and there is even a kid's version too!
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Natural Entrance Self-Guided Tour
2 hr. 00 min.
You begin this self guided tour by descending the steep and winding paved trail down the main entrance into the
Big Room. The trail is only 1.25 miles, but it drops 800 feet (244 m) in elevation. The average overall gradient is 20% and the hike is not recommended for visitors with knee, heart or lung conditions. Downhill seems easy. Don't be fooled. Due to the steep gradient, for some it can be a very strenuous and difficult hike. However, for those who are physically fit, this hike leads you through an area of the cave not seen on any ranger led tours. You will pass by the dark passage leading to Bat Cave, where Carlsbad Caverns famous summer colony of Mexican free-tail bats raise their young, as well as countless fanciful cave formations. It is highly recommended to wear comfortable and well fitting shoes with good tread for this hike. Strollers, walkers and wheelchairs are not allowed down or up the main entranceroute.
Take plain water to stay hydrated and remember, there are no restrooms until you reach the Big Room. Some visitors prefer to take the elevator down and hike out the Natural Entrance. Make sure you check with the rangers about how late you can hike out to make sure you reach the surface before the cave closes for the evening.
If you are looking for a relatively easy ranger led tour, this is the one for you. You start
the tour in the Underground Lunchroom just beyond the elevator lobby where you will meet your
ranger. You then walk through the Big Room a short distance to the entrance to the King's Palace.
You will descend a total of 80 feet (24 m) on a paved trail. This tour is a leisurely stroll through a
variety of highly decorated chambers. Your ranger will take you on a journey into the past, telling
stories of Carlsbad Caverns "discovery" to 250 million years ago when the geologic story of the
cave began. As part of the tour you will experience what all caves really look like without our
artificial light. As you sit in the dark you will gain an understanding of what a world completely
devoid of all light is like while you experience a heightening of your other senses.
Flash photography is welcome, however for safety reasons, no tripods please.
Tour times change throughout the year, but are offered daily except December 25. Sorry, children under 4 years of age are not allowed on this tour.
Moderately strenuous. This is a historic candle-lit lantern tour through an undeveloped section of the cave on unpaved trails. The dirt trail winds over uneven surfaces with some steep, slippery slopes. Careful footing is required to navigate on steep and slippery slopes, around cavern pools and fragile formations. Not recommended for anyone who has difficulty seeing in dim-lit or candle-lit conditions. Lanterns are provided. Sturdy closed-toed shoes or hiking boots required. No backpacks. Tour departs from the Visitor Center.
Tours are offered daily at 9:00 am except December 25. Sorry, children under 6 years of age are not allowed on this tour.
In 1924, a National Geographic expedition wrote about the wonders of Lower Cave. Today
Visitors can see these wonders for themselves as well as evidence from early explorations.
This exciting adventure begins with a 10 foot (3 m) decent down smooth flowstone using a
knotted rope. Your journey continues down another 50 feet (17 m) on a series of three steep ladders. From there you continue past clear pools, cave pearls and a myriad of exceptional cave formations. This trip is not for anyone who is afraid of heights, enclosed spaces or darkness. The trail is wet or muddy in many places, making it extremely slippery. But for the prepared, a trip into Lower Cave is a unique and breathtaking experience.
Tours are offered Monday through Friday at 1:00 PM all year except December 25. Sorry, children under 12 years of age are not allowed on this tour.
Slaughter Canyon Cave has some of the most beautiful and enchanting cave formations in the park. The tour takes you into the darkness where you will see not only beautiful decorations but remnants of days gone by, during a time when the cave was mined for its guano. Today, the trail cuts through an ancient pile of guano and if you look close you will see the tiny, fragile bones of a long extinct bat.
There is no stooping or crawling on this tour but it is extremely strenuous. To get to the cave you must walk up a steep, rocky 1/2 mile trail from the parking lot. On a hot summer day the temperature outside can exceed 100 degrees F (38 C) in the shade. Be prepared with water and sunscreen. Once inside the cooler cave, things do not get easier. The trail is rugged and in many places, extremely slippery. At one point you will climb up smooth and slick flowstone using a handline.
Sorry, children under 8 years of age are not allowed on this tour.
If you like crawling on your belly, squeezing through narrow passageways and climbing slippery vertical rock, Hall of the White Giant is the Adventure Tour for you! For many, Hall is our most challenging and strenuous cave trip. You will get dirty, you will sweat, you will wonder if you can climb that rope and when it's over, you will want to come back for more! If you have a fear of heights, tight places and darkness, this is definitely not the Adventure Tour for you. But, for those that take on the challenge of Hall of the White Giant, the rewards are many. Meet at the visitor center to meet your ranger, get issued your gear and listen to a safety orientation talk before heading down the Natural Entrance to begin your Hall of the White Giant caving adventure.
Tours are offered every Saturday at 1:00 pm all year except December 25.
Sorry, children under 12 years of age are not allowed on this tour.
Spider Cave is unusual because of the unique and fanciful formations you will not see on other cave adventures. Even veteran cavers will enjoy this caving paradise, which consists of three dimensional maze-like passages. This is an extremely strenuous and challenging cave. Expect to get dirty, hot and tired! The tour starts with a steep and rocky trail downhill to the cave opening. Your first introduction to this adventure is a long crawl on your belly through a very tight passage- the first of many. You will scramble over slippery rocks, traverse deep pits and have an experience you will never forget. This tour is not for anyone with a fear of tight places, heights or darkness. This physically demanding trip requires strength and endurance. You'll need to have some energy reserves for the steep hike back up to your car at the end of the trip!
Before your adventure begins, you will meet with a ranger at the Visitor Center to get outfitted with gear and listen to a safety orientation. Then the group will drive their own vehicles a short distance to the trail that leads to Spider Cave.
Tours are offered every Sunday at 1:00 pm all year except December 25. Sorry, children under 12 years of age are not allowed on this tour.