Carlsbad Caverns, NM
Updated: Jan 25, 2020
The Carlsbad Caverns of southeastern New Mexico gave us a whole new level of appreciation for our National Parks system. We've toured caverns before. Most recently, the Shasta Caverns of northern California, which were fabulous. But nothing could have prepared us for the magnitude of the Carlsbad Caverns.
We took the natural entrance to the caverns and highly recommend this steep but paved (with handrails) 1.25-mile path. There are elevators that will also transport you the 800 feet down to access the Big Room, but much of the overall experience would be missed by riding down. Best to save the elevator as an exit option.
Once you're in the Big Room, there is a 1.25-mile loop that takes about 90 minutes to complete with stops to gaze and take photos. Surprisingly, there is a little refreshment kiosk with beverages, snacks and ample seating right off the Big Room. Restrooms are available as well.
The caverns are absolutely awe-inspiring. Truly. We're talking the stuff of bucket-lists here.
While we chose to explore on our own by walking the Natural Entrance and Big Room trails (twice in the same day), the park also offers ranger-guided tours into cavern areas not open for self-guided exploration. Guided tours require a reservation and have a small fee.