Guided Tours are a great way to see other parts of the cave. Some of the guided tours actually require you to squeeze between tight places and crawl on the floor. However there are some guided tours that are in lighted rooms with paths for walking. I've only been on one guided tour myself and I can't wait to go back and go on more. The whole cave experiance is great.
Here is a list of prices. For more info about each guided tour, check out the website.
Kings Palace: Adult $8.00, Kids $4.00, Departs Daily
Left Hand Tunnel: Adult $7.00, Kids $3.50, Departs Daily 9 a.m
Slaughter Canyon Cave: Adult $15.00, Kids $7.50, Departs Daily in summer
10 a.m. and 1 p.m
Lower Cave: Adult $20.00, Kids $10.00, Departs Mon-Friday 1 p.m.
Hall of White Giant: Adult $20.00, Kids $10.00, Departs Saturday 1 p.m.
Spider Cave: Adult $20.00, Kids $10.00, Departs Sunday 1 p.m.
This is a popular area for locals is in the Lincoln National Forest. For this reason, don’t come on a holiday as you will find it crowded with people on picnic outings. When it is less crowded, it is a lovely spot with a picnic area, trails, and restrooms. The area around the town of Carlsbad is very desolate due to early cattle ranching, but around sitting Bull Falls the environment is lush and green. The 130 foot waterfall splashed over the top of a rock cliff and is one of the highest waterfalls in the state. Sitting Bulls Falls is located seven miles southwest of State Highway 137 on Forest Route 275.
A few hours away northwest from the caverns off US-82, your family will enjoy the cool climes of a desert of white sand near Alamogordo. The Tularosa Basin is filled with 275 sq miles of rich sand dunes that are cool to the touch and fun to enjoy. Listen to park warnings about venturing out, then use common sense and go out and enjoy.
When you tire of the chaparrals and hilltops around the caverns, and you think that the rest of the world is a dusty desert, you can drive 50 miles south of Carlsbad to the next closest national park at Guadalupe Mountains (in Texas). The park has 135 square miles of mountain ranges overlooking the desert below, and 80 miles of trail whereby to explore the backcountry. Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas at 8,749 feet, is accessible by trail (for the hale and hardy) starting behind the Pine Springs Visitor Center.
In my humble opinion, the park service tried to name something cute for every odd formation, but the descriptions stretch the truth in many cases. You'll have to decide for yourself what is of interest and what not. You can come away with some great pictures provided you use your flash correctly (not that I did, mind you). Your camera can take away portraits that your eyes will never see.
At the Carlsbad Caverns National Park Visitor Center I asked one of the rangers as to how many visitors to the park also visit Guadalupe Mountains. She indicated she wasn't sure but she had heard that it was less than one-third do on the same trip to Carlsbad Caverns. What a shame!
Sitting just 34 miles to the west of Carlsbad Caverns is the scenic and interesting Guadalupe Mountains National Park. While it certainly does not have the wow factors that Carlsbad has it is definitely worth a visit. Within just a few hours you can see four very distinct climatic features; the salt dunes, the Chihuahuan Desert, the canyons, and the high mountains. The trails such as at McKittrick Canyon are gorgeous and the natural beauty is pretty special. So here is a plug for making a short drive when you are so close to Guadalupe Mountains. I think you will enjoy it.
Lying about sixty miles east of Carlsbad Caverns is the interesting town of Artesia, New Mexico. A town that has made a concerted effort of making there city a culturally interesting place to live.
Although it is not apparent as you drive through the outskirts of Artesia coming from Carlsbad, the town is a minor oasis in Southeast New Mexico. A tidy downtown with many historic structures preserved and numerous bronze statues depicting the life of cowboys and the oilfields cover the town. An arts center and a restored movie theater also adorn the town. This will definitely be my place to stay if I decide to visit Carlsbad Caverns again and enter from the east to west.
Carlsbad sits on the edge of an ancient lakebed. The entire lakebed is before your eyes when you get there, and you can have a picnic right there. The winds blow up the walls of the lakebed and create a nice breeze. It's really a facinating site
This cave is part of the National Park, but is located 25 miles West on CRs 418, 422, and 423, with the last mile to the parking area unpaved. You will walk a half mile trail each way from the parking area to the base of a hill, where you will have to climb a steep, rocky trail 500 feet to the cave entrance. This is an undeveloped cave that contains dramatic formations. A maximum of 25 people are allowed on this ranger led tour, and you must make reservations in advance. No child under the age of 6 is allowed on this tour. Wear comfortable and sturdy shoes, and since there is no lighting in the cave you must carry your own flashlight and extra batteries. At times the tour includes steep slippery slopes where you will use a rope as a hand-line.
This tour is advertised as a one and a quarter mile tour, which usually lasts around 2 hours. However, we discovered that this is often not the case, as we were only taken on one a half mile tour. In reality if there is a large group, you do not get the entire tour. It is during the “off season” when there are only a few people registered for this tour that they take you deeper into the cave. This is because as you get farther in the walking becomes rougher, so they only want really small groups. We unfortunately had 25 people, the maximum allowed. The ranger told us that November is the best month for this tour. The next best month for Slaughter Canyon Cave is January. We were somewhat disappointed, but it was still a nice caving experience. We were able to see the best known and photographed formation in Slaughter Cave. This is the 89 foot high Christmas Tree which is a huge, dome shaped, white column which sparkles with crystals as you turn your flashlight on making it look like freshly fallen snow sparkling in bright sunlight. Another formation I like here reminded me of a movie monster. This formation had a series of stalactites that resembled a face, which was framed by a white covering resembling a hood and cape coming down around the face. The formations in this cave were huge! The photo was taken by my husband.
We did not take these tours, but I offer them for your consideration. These are very strenuous caving tours that are offered only one time a week, so be sure to register for these ahead of time. If you have any problems with your knees or shoulders, or have a fear of enclosed space or heights these tours would not be for you. Oh, and you better not mind getting dirty, because you will on these excursions! Each trip lasts about four yours, and no child under the age of 12 is allowed on either one. You must wear sturdy shoes, and it is recommended that you wear long pants, bring drinking water, gloves, soft knee pads, and four AA batteries.
A half mile hike down a beautiful canyon will take you to Spider Cave. This is a very strenuous tour where there will be excessive crawling through tight spaces, climbing, and traveling through canyon-like passages. The park describes some of the formations that you will see as bizarre.
Hall of the White Giant is a strenuous and challenging tour to a remote area of Carlsbad Caverns. You will be crawling long distances, squeezing through tight crevices, and climbing up slippery flowstone-lined passages. Also expect ladder climbing, slippery surfaces, and free climbing on this trip. Because of the long amount of time spent in narrow cave passages, this trip is not recommended for anyone afraid of tight spaces or heights.
The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens sits atop Ocotillo Hills off of US 285, and is a 10 minute drive from the downtown area of the town of Carlsbad, and is state operated zoo and botanical garden which exhibits plants and animals of the Chihuahuan Desert in their native habitat. It is also a receiving point and wildlife clearing house for injured and orphaned birds, mammals, and reptiles. Although this couldn’t even come close to the Tucson, Arizona Desert Museum, it was still very enjoyable. The photo was taken by my husband.
Guadalupe National Park is in west Texas only 45 miles southwest of Carlsbad Caverns. This is a park that is not well know, so is not as heavily visited as other National Parks in the United States. This park contains the highest part of the 50 mile long Guadalupe mountain range and has beautiful mountains, and interesting hiking trails. The highest point in Texas, Guadalupe Peak, at 8,749 feet lies within this park. If you enjoy hiking and mountains, you will enjoy this park. For more information on Guadalupe, visit my VT Guadalupe pages at Guadalupe Mountain National Park by Kimberlyann
Back in the 1950s, here a ranger saved a black bear cub from a forest fire. Can you guess what the cub was named?? Yup..Smokey Bear. Decades later the cub is still a famous symbol for forest fire prevention.
There are 370 campsites here; most are seasonal. Open all year round, adjoins CNP on the west about 20 miles in Carlsbas on US 285.
White gyspum sand can reach up to 50 feet high in this location.
There is primative camping, food, hiking. Open daily; except Christmas Visitor center on US 70, about 190 miles from CNP.