We went batsh*t crazy over Carlsbad Caverns

Imagine a quarter million or more bats swirling tornado-like from a gaping maw, out of the earth…

Bat Cave sign. A dark passage that leads to the home of thousands of Mexican freetail-bats.
Bats only. Mexican free-tailed hanging back there.

Meanwhile…. RVoyager dry docked at White City RV Park.

  • $24 to dry dock Pricey
  • Dirt and grass parking with ruts.
  • Broken glass in places
  • Sites with Full hook-up are nice

You will have to imagine the blackish whirlwind scene, because we did not take photos as instructed by the Park Service Staff. Remain silent and in awe, because clicks and clacks could disturb the bats.

If you go, you won’t need any photos or videos, either, because you will never forget this twilight flight of mammals en masse.

Beyond the bat cave, we marveled at the Carlsbad descent of 80 stories. The trail from the natural entrance drops deeper than the Empire State Building stands.

We got permission from the businesses at the main road in Whites City to park RVoyager in front of the hotel and detached Delta Flyer.

  • Orange blossom with yellow stamen
  • Curving road through the desert hills, foreground of rock piles
  • Yellow prickly blossom open with one pink and one red closed blossom in background
  • Bill and Anita smile from the rocks above the curvy road in the Carlsbad desert
  • Butterfly on daisy

After a fairly bland but gradually ascending drive of dry desert scenery, we stopped to admire the blooming of the prickly pear and several other scrub brushes such as Mariola on a short overlook trail off a pullout.

We chose the Natural entrance to descend the caverns. The walk in offered several spring blooms and many fact-filled signs.

For this hike, we recommend

  • in spring or summer, bring warmer clothing layer on in the caverns
  • wear sturdy, slip proof hiking shoes
  • camera with ability to turn off flash
  • water but no food
  • Path to the natural entrance.
  • Thorny spikes with red blooms against the blue sky
  • Sign about the Natural Entrance and American Indians.
  • The trail winds left then curves back right, all the way a gradual descent by method known as switchbacks.
  • Natural entrance from inside looking out.
  • Bat Cave sign. A dark passage that leads to the home of thousands of Mexican freetail-bats.
  • Blueish dim light on rocks.
  • Stalactites with greenish texture beyond
  • A sign about Devil's Spring
  • Brownish spikes.
  • Formation like slats
  • Tall curtain with large teeth or fang-like slats
  • Cave formation with shiny areas of milky white surrounded by gold and silvery sheen
  • Brown curtain formation
  • Sign showing the elevation descended compared to the height of one skyscraper
  • Sign about speleothems, cave deposits made of calcite that form when groundwater drips in.
  • Stalactite popcorn formation
  • Tall stalactites of smooth and toothy patterms
  • Looks like a caramel swirl ice cream upside down.
  • Smiling middle age woman in hoodie and long jacket
  • Mirror Lake, a pond with stalactites reflecting.
  • Sign about the Bottomless pit formed by acidic solutions.
  • Black hole with no perception of depth.
  • Silhouette of couple walking toward large white stalagmite ahead, on the left, on the right large toothy arches
  • Sign for Crystal Spring Dome explains that drips keep this speleothem growing
  • Shiny wet creme colored formation
  • Middle age man posing in jeans and plaid flannel.
  • A large white curtain like a lace veil.

Food is available in the Underground Lunchroom about 750 below, after maybe an hour’s hike. We bought sandwiches that might not have been much to love on a typical day anywhere else, but after the long descent, tasted miraculous.

Souvenirs and restrooms also are available in this area.

From there, you may return to the Visitor’s Center by elevator.

For a less strenuous walk or to save time, some choose to ride down in the elevator and only explore the Big Room, probably the most gorgeous section of the cave, about a mile walk. We added this marvelous mile. Everything IS bigger and like a lot of caves offers the cliche’ “Bottomless Pit,” too.

We rode the elevator up to the Visitor Center, rather than return 80 stories to the natural entrance.

We still had a couple hours before dusk and the bat flight, so we drove the Walnut Canyon Desert Drive, a scenic loop of a little less than 10 miles.

  • Map of Walnut Canyon drive, wildlife into and hazard warnings
  • SPike plant with maroon rod from which pods hang
  • Overlook of Guadalupe mountains
  • Cacti pods with needles
  • orange and pink
  • another spike with pods
  • Bighorn sheep eating yucca atop a ridge
  • Dark blue sky and tall hill of rock moon above
  • Four deer with ears perked out
  • Another sign with AJ's reflection

We stopped for a snack at an overlook of the Guadalupe mountains.

As we looped back toward the Visitor Center and bat flight parking area, we saw a herd of deer and a big horn sheep. The moon was bright in the sky, too.

The bat flight highlights the entire experience.

Bat flight disabled parking. Even if you have a significant vision loss you could still enjoy the sounds of these amazing creatures.
For those with a plaque, we recommend that you park much closer to the bat flight in the disabled lot rather than going all the way back to the Visitor Center lot.

We learned a lot about bats while we waited for the flight to happen. We saw about a quarter million swirl out of the cave and away for insect dining. Their exit took about 45 minutes. As summer progresses, a million or more will make home in the caverns and entertain summer visitors with even longer exodus.

The best word to describe the bats flight is TORNADO. The sound is swoo swoo like the whirring of a powerful exhaust fan.

After that thrilling experience, we returned exhausted to RVoyager. We paid about $24 to pull into the Whites City RV park and dry dock.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Carlsbad, NM

575-785-2232
Official Park Website

NEWS FEED FROM CARLSBAD CAVERNS NP

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