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Carlsbad Caverns National Park is located in the Guadalupe Mountains, roughly a 300 miles (almost 500 kilometres) drive from Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Caverns date back 200 millions years and the limestone rocks that holds Carlsbad Cavern are full of ocean fossil plants and animals from a time before the dinosaurs, when the southeastern corner of New Mexico was a coastline similar to the Florida Keys.
One of Carlsbad Caverns main attraction is the “Big Room” where visitors can go down 900 feet (over 250 metres) in an elevator into the cave's main area and witness the wonderful rock formations. The Carlsbad Caverns are a must-see attraction that gets busy all-year around. Visitors are able to take a self-guided tour or a guided tour and tours can often be set up through hotels in the area and cities nearby. The Caverns are a UNESCO World Heritage site.
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Two self-guided routes, the Big Room and the Natural Entrance, are available for self-guided tours.
View over 400,000 bats as they exit the caves every evening from mid-May through mid-October. A program presented by park rangers is given at the cave entrance prior to the flight. Early risers can view the bats as they dive from hundreds of feet into the cave in their pre-dawn return flight.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park is open every day except for December 25. Regular opening hours after Labor Day weekend until Memorial Day weekend are from 8:00am to 5:00pm, and the last entry into the cave from the natural entrance is 3:30pm via the elevator (2:00pm via natural entrance). Extended summer hours (Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend) are 8:00am to 7:00pm. Last entry then is at 3:30pm (natural entrance) or 4:00pm (elevator).
Entrance fee is $6.00 for adults, free for children 15 and under. The "America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass" costs $80 a year and gives unlimited excess to all parks, monuments etc. that fall under the NPS service.
Ranger-guided tours vary in price, but you must also pay the regular entrance fee as well on most of these tours. The prices for tours are:
To access Carlsbad Caverns National Park's only entrance road, New Mexico Highway 7, turn north from US Hwy 62/180 at Whites City, New Mexico - which is 16 miles southwest of Carlsbad, New Mexico, and 150 miles northeast of El Paso, Texas. The entrance road stretches a scenic 7-mile (about 11 kilometres) from the park gate at Whites City to the Visitor Center and cavern entrance.
Greyhound buses serve Carlsbad.
Lodging and commercial camping available in nearby Whites City and the city of Carlsbad. No camping available in the park, except for backcountry camping, which requires a permit and a minimum half-mile hike.
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