Plan Your Trip to Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Indeed, there is something inexplicably thrilling about caves! They may be spooky sometimes, even downright terrifying, but there is just something about them that makes us yearn to explore them. So, if you are looking to discover caves known for their sheer unearthly beauty rather than their scary side, rent an RV and head to Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
The Carlsbad Caverns National Park has over 119 magnificent limestone caves resting beneath its surface. Above the ground, the park offers plenty to see, from deep rocky canyons, flowering cactus, desert wildlife to thousands of Brazilian free-tailed bats. It’s the perfect destination for a refreshing and unforgettable RV adventure.
The Carlsbad Caverns National Park straddles the borders of Texas and New Mexico, in the Chihuahua Desert and sits on 10,000 acres. Beneath it lies one of the deepest, largest, and most elaborate caverns ever found. The cave systems were discovered by a curious teenager in 1898, and today, new discoveries are still being made. Lately, a team of explores stumbled upon a pristine natural pool deep inside one of the caves.
Although the weather in Carlsbad Caverns can soar to sweltering levels, especially during summer, the temperatures inside the caverns are a consistent 56 degrees all year round. Winters are cold, and it occasionally gets snow and icy. Every year, around 410,000 people visit the park, most of them during the summer season and major holiday weekends. To avoid crowds, aim to visit around spring or fall when the desert vegetation comes to life, and the weather conditions are pleasant.
The park is easily accessible as it’s around major cities. If you touch down in El Paso, Texas, it’s just a two-and-a-half-hour RV drive to the park. And it’s about a 4.5-hour drive from Albuquerque, New Mexico where you can pick-up an RV rental. Note that there’s only a single-entry point.
The caverns are the major draw, loved for their sheer beauty and grandeur. Apart from these underground wonders, there are other above-ground attractions—nature trails, canyon trails, bat flight, plant life, and wildlife.
Self-Guided Cave Tours
Start with a self-guided tour and head to the underground trails. The most popular trail, the Big Room, is the largest single cave chamber by volume in entire North America. Yet, it’s still the easiest to explore. The trails are strategically illuminated to help you witness the dramatic honeycomb formations. You can take lots of photos and read the interpretative display panels. The other best route is Nature Entrance Trail, but it’s a bit strenuous to hike. It leads to the Whale’s mouth and Devil’s Spring.
Ranger Guided Tour
For a grand adventure and to learn more about the caverns, take a guided ranger-guided tour. The friendly champs in hats will brief you on every unique aspect of the caves, answer any of your questions, and provide you with special protection equipment such as helmets, gloves, and kneepads to help you get to the best spots. The experience will be nothing short of enlightening. These tours will take you to places you can’t go by yourself, such as the naturally decorated King’s Palace, the Lower Cave with beautiful pearls, and the maze-like Spider Cave.
After completing your underground hikes and still have extra time on your hands, consider a surface activity. The park has an incredible diversity of plants and animals waiting to be spotted. Take a rewarding stroll in the jagged desert terrain and see cactus, bighorn sheep, wild turkey, deer, and much more. There are more than ten hiking trails for those who want to escape from the underworld.
Have a Picnic at Rattlesnake Springs
If you decide to travel from Carlsbad Caverns National Park to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, stop at Rattlesnake Springs and relax in this lush oasis. It’s a hidden place waiting to be discovered. You’ll enjoy the blue-green water, see lots of friendly birds around, and spot some wildlife.
To learn the history behind the caverns, don’t skip the Visitor Center. You’ll learn how the caves were formed, get to know all flora and fauna in the park, and enjoy a free 16-minute film that will get you pumped up for the underground hike. There’s also a gift shop where you can buy unique gifts to preserve the memories.
If you want to see a phenomenal bat exodus, the evenings at the park are a perfect time. Between April and October, thousands of bats put on an exhilarating show as they leave the caves in search of food. To learn about these marvelous creatures, join the Bat Flight Program, where rangers educate visitors about the strange animals.
Night Sky Programs
Thanks to the remoteness of Carlsbad Caverns National Park, it’s a fantastic place to stargaze. The park has frequent programs where you can use powerful telescopes to get a close-up view of galactic objects. And not just that, on clear nights, you can join a ranger-guided walk to elevated points with clear sky views.
RV Campgrounds in Carlsbad Caverns National Park
After navigating your rental RV through the rugged landscape of New Mexico, you’ll want a perfect spot to park your rig and relax. Although the Carlsbad Caverns National Park offers no overnight campgrounds or lodging, there are many nearby private RV campgrounds.
● Carlsbad KOA – Located north of Carlsbad and 40 minutes from the Carlsbad Caverns, this campground is very popular with RVing families looking to have lots of fun. It has plenty of activities, and it’s strategically nestled near multiple attractions. Amenities include full hookups, a heated pool, bike rentals, and a spacious recreation room.
● Carlsbad RV Park & Campground – To maximize your time in the park, this is the place to camp. It’s located just a 15-minute drive from the park entrance, and it offers all the amenities you need, from full hookups to a picnic area.
● Artesia RV Park – Although it’s an hour away from Carlsbad Caverns, RVers highly appreciate this spot. It’s famous for its customer service, serene location, sparkling clean facilities, and fantastic amenities. It offers full hookups, plus cable TV, wireless internet, and much more.
● The Ranch – If you love remote campsites, this campground is a sweet spot. It may be tucked away in the Chihuahuan Desert oasis, but it’s only a 45-minute drive to the national park. This retreat offers full hookups and plenty of activities.
Get a Rental RV and Explore the Caves Hidden Beneath The New Mexico Desert
Take your rental RV to Carlsbad Caverns National Park and discover that the underworld isn’t always a spooky place. Here, you’ll get the opportunity to witness an extraordinary variety of glistening formations and immerse yourself in the beauty of the treasures hidden deep below. And if you’re wondering whether a motorhome or camper rental will offer you the experience you desire, check out this post on top reasons to rent an RV.