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“Absolutely Amazing!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Big Room

Big Room
Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
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Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: The largest cavern in Carlsbad Caverns.
Arcadia, California
Level Contributor
29 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“Absolutely Amazing!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 4, 2014

Carlsbad Caverns National Park was a must-do on our cross country road trip. My husband had visited as a young boy and had often talked about descending 750 feet via elevator into the Big Room, the main cave at the park. This time, he was eager to hike in through the Natural Entrance. I was not as enthusiastic as he, especially since that route meant an hour of walking the equivalent of 79 stories down steep, narrow paths (BEFORE reaching the Big Room) with our 3 elementary school-aged children. However, they were game, so I was willing to give it a try.

The Natural Entrance closes at 3:30 during the summer, so after eating a late lunch at the cafeteria, we hurried down the path to the Natural Entrance where a ranger briefed us on the site and rules (no touching the formations!) before inviting us to enjoy this wonder of nature. As the large, gaping hole on the side of the mountain greeted us, I was filled with a sense of adventure and was immediately glad that I had decided to take this route.

Sparrows flitted and chirped around us, their scent unmistakable, as we entered. Eventually, the New Mexican sunshine that was lighting our way was completely blocked out. We wished then that we had thought to bring along a small flashlight, but our eyes adjusted to the dimly lit caverns. At times during the hike, I felt as if we were descending into the Mines of Moria in Middle-earth (Tolkien reference, for those of you who are non-geeks). The experience was at once eerie and fascinating, and the sheer immensity of the caves almost incomprehensible.

Although it sounded intimidating at first, the hike itself, though very steep and slippery in spots, was not overly difficult. The hardest part was keeping our 5-year old from running downhill at full speed! There are handrails and frequent turn-outs to rest or just take in the atmosphere. The temperature was not too chilly, and we were comfortable in shorts, light jackets, and hiking sandals.

It took us about an hour to reach the Big Room. There are restrooms and a concession stand available. We wanted to try something from the snack bar - just to say that we dined at 750 ft below the Earth's surface - but by the time we got around to it at the end of our tour, it was closed.

It is suggested that visitors take an hour-and-a-half or so to do the full self-guided tour around the Big Room, but there is a short-cut if you have neither the inclination nor the time to do so. The paths are relatively flat, but a few spots are too narrow and/or steep for wheelchairs. Photography is allowed.

The Big Room, vast and other-worldly in its beauty, became a little tiring for our younger children towards the end of the tour. To keep them amused, I started giving names to the all the different formations. One that I dubbed "The Pinecone" was actually called "Rock of Ages." So much for my stalagmite-naming skills! I, myself, was really awestruck by "Top of the Cross" (the ceiling of the Big Room at its highest point) but was disappointed by "Bottomless Pit" (spoiler alert: it's not bottomless).

At the end of our tour, we rode the elevator back up into the Visitors' Center where little paper cups and a pitcher of ice-cold water with lemon slices was waiting for anyone who needed some refreshment. Nice touch! It was a pleasant way to end an amazing visit!

Visited June 2014
2 Thank SoCalOhanaOf5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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482 reviews from our community

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Dickinson, Texas
Level Contributor
57 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“6 Football Fields”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 3, 2014

This 'room' is 6 football fields long. I am not sure how wide but well worth the effort to walk the mile and a quarter!

Visited June 2014
1 Thank Susan S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
McPherson, Kansas
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Must see!! Great time!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 2, 2014 via mobile

This was one if the most spectacular natural things I have ever seen. Would highly recommend to any family as my three year old had a great time. Very cool and a nice break from the heat, as the caverns stay 56 degrees year round. Would give this more stars if I could. AWESOME!

1 Thank Tyler S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
16 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Lots to see”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 21, 2014

We visited the Big Room via self-guided tour, walking down through the Natural Entrance. The walk to the Big Room took us about an hour. It is a little strenuous, not too bad, and has just a couple of spots with low overhead. I wouldn't recommend walking down with small children because there are some ledges that drop a little and also patrons are not allowed to touch anything in the caverns (it's pretty tempting!). The park has done a great job lighting and marking and explaining many of the more unique formations. A ranger stopped to point out a fossil along the path. Once you get to the Big Room, there are different paths you can take depending on how much you want to see. The walk around here is much easier. The formations are impressive, difficult to describe, but definitely worth the visit. We walked the large loop and stopped at a few features, we spent maybe a little more than an hour. Photography is allowed and turns out fairly decent. There is a restroom, gift & snack shop inside the cavern. It is about 55 degrees inside and pretty humid. Shorts were fine, but we wore jackets too. Took the elevator back up. The whole tour took about 2.5 hours then we came back in the evening for the amazing bat flight.

Visited June 2014
3 Thank KKL0225
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lake Toxaway, North Carolina
Level Contributor
52 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“Another Must See, Don't Take Short-Cuts”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 19, 2014

This is what Carlsbad Caverns are all about. The big room has almost all of the iconic attractions. The sheer size of the room and the number and size of decorations are amazing. The lighting is dim, but almost perfect. The knowledge that the lower cave is right below in some spots is chilling.

We had someone near us with a monstrous flashlight, so we had to get away from him (DON'T BRING A HUGE FLASHLIGHT, it ruins it for everyone else). The knowledge that the lower cave is right below in some spots is chilling. I just wanted to keep exploring!

Visited June 2014
1 Thank Jeremy R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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