The best tour, and one that is not to be missed, is the Big Room self-guided tour. This tour takes visitors into one of the largest, most magnificent caves in Carlsbad Caverns NP. The room is 8.3 acres big, and is accessible to wheelchairs. The Natural Entrance tour is another popular tour, but it has steep areas, so is not accessible to wheelchairs. There are no baby strollers permitted in the caves of Carlsbad Caverns NP. The temperature in the caves is 56 degrees, so bring a jacket! You will be surprised by how cool it is in the caves. The Natural Entrance and the Big Room are the self-guided tours, but there are also six ranger-guided cave tours available at Carlsbad Caverns NP.
The first tour is Kings Palace. This is a one and a half hour tour and takes visitors through four chambers. It also goes to the deepest open portion of the cave, which is 830 feet below the surface. This hike is not difficult. You will see many natural cave formations, and also be able to experience total cave darkness.
The Left-Hand tunnel is a more natural experience as it is a lantern-lit tour. It highlights the history of the caves, and the guides will point out some interesting fossil formations. This tour is the easiest of the unpaved tours. Be sure to wear shoes with good traction, as it can be slippery.
The Slaughter Canyon Cave Tour shows evidence of guano mining from the history of the cave. This is a tour of a truly wile cave, with no paved paths or electricity. You will see one of the tallest cave columns in the world, and a sparkling formation that has been named the Christmas Tree.
Another guided cave tour in Carlsbad Caverns NP is the Lower Cave Tour. This cave was written about by National Geographic in 1924. You will see beautiful cave pearls and the Texas Toothpick formation. This tour has to be accessed by a ladder, but don’t let this hold you back. You will see some of the most unique formations in the area on this tour.
Be sure to see the Hall of the White Giant. Oh, on this tour, you will get dirty! You have to crawl through tight tunnels and scale ladders on this tour. The highlight of the trip is the White Giant formation. This tour is not for the faint of heart!
The final guided tour in Carlsbad Caverns NP is the Spider Cave Tour. Again, this is a tour where you have to crawl and climb! You will see some beautiful formation on your trip, but be prepared to get dirty!
There are many things to do in Carlsbad Caverns NP above the surface as well. One of the most popular programs at the park is the bat flight program. Every summer evening, visitors can watch as 400,000 Brazilian bats take to the skies at sunset in search of food. This is a truly amazing site to see! And, it is free! Be sure to plan to be at the cavern entrance at sunset to catch this stunning site.