Planning an RV Camping Trip to Carlsbad Caverns

Temple of the Sun in Carlsbad Caverns

Temple of the Sun in Carlsbad Caverns

A journey to explore the caves at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in southeastern New Mexico can be the beginning of a lifelong love affair with caves. Spectacular underground formations and the beauty of the Chihuahuan Desert greet visitors to this beloved Park, and that’s just a small sampling of what you’ll find there. Here’s our quick checklist for planning your first RV camping trip to Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

  • Plan Your Route: Whether you’re coming east or west, U.S. Highway 62/180 leads to the National Park. Carlsbad Caverns NP is one hundred fifty miles east of El Paso, Texas, just north of the Texas/New Mexico border. You can also fly into Albuquerque, NM, pick up your El Monte RV rental there and head south on Hwy 85/60 to Hwy 180 at Las Cruces, then east to the National Park.
  • Plan Your Campgrounds: The town of Carlsbad, New Mexico is just twenty miles from Carlsbad Caverns National Park, and home to several great RV campgrounds. Carlsbad RV Park & Campground can accommodate any size rig. Whites City RV Park is very near the National Park entrance, so you might want to give them a call, too.
  • Plan Your Cave Tours: Because there are both guided and self-guided tours at Carlsbad Caverns National Park, there’s a way for just about anyone to enjoy the Park’s underground mysteries. Here are some of the most popular tours. Be sure to check the NPS website for even more options:
    1. King’s Palace Ranger-Guided Tour: This one-hour, one mile cave tour takes you eight hundred feet below the surface. The kids will love it when the Ranger turns off the lights for a moment of complete darkness underground!
    2. Hall of the White Giant Tour: If crawling, climbing and squeezing through amazing cave formations sounds like a wonderful way to spend a vacation, this tour should not be missed. The sights you’ll see make this hair-raising journey worthwhile, and it just might be the thing your teens remember most from your trip!
    3. Spider Cave Tour: Imagine hiking through a gorgeous desert canyon on your way to a four-hour adventure in an underground maze. That’s what you’ll experience on the Spider Cave Tour. Caution: not for the faint of heart!
    4. Big Room Tour: This self-guided walk around the largest underground room at Carlsbad Caverns gives you the chance to see the attractions that make this the most popular tour at Carlsbad. It’s accessible most of the way and you reach the Big Room by elevator, so RV campers of all ages and abilities will enjoy the experience.
    5. Natural Entrance Tour: Don’t miss the Bat Cave and the Boneyard as you make the challenging hike down to the Big Room from ground level through the Cavern’s natural entrance.
    6. Bat Flights: Hundreds of thousands of Mexican freetail bats make the Caverns home during the summer. You can see their mass flight from the cave to find food each evening by attending the bat presentation in the amphitheater.
  • Things to Remember: Here are two more important things to remember as you plan your RV camping journey to Carlsbad Caverns National Park:
    1. Kids: You’ll have to carry babies in backpacks in the caves, no strollers are allowed underground (kids under three are not allowed on the Ranger-guided tours.) Older kids under age sixteen must be accompanied by an adult.
    2. Dress Code: Except for the Big Room self-guided tour and the King’s Palace Ranger-guided tour, there’s going to be a little dirt involved, so dress accordingly. Remember to wear good walking shoes and bring a jacket; the average temp in the caves is about fifty degrees year-round.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park is a natural treasure all RV campers should visit. Pack your walking shoes, book space at an RV campground and get going to New Mexico. There’s a whole underground world of wonder waiting to be discovered!

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