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“Fifteen years later it was just as magical”

Carlsbad Caverns National Park Visitor Center
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed July 14, 2015

My parents took us here as kids and my husband and I went back in late 2014. We spent a full day at the caverns, first stopping by the visitor's center and obtaining maps and tour tickets. I recommend taking the natural entrance in to the cave if you have the time. They make it sound like it's a treacherous descent but the entire pathway was paved with railings and had a minor descent in portions on the way down. This takes a good 45 minutes, has plenty of sitting areas, and you can surely go at your own pace. Walking in to the caverns and having the sunlight slowly fade away is much more dramatic than the modern convenience of the elevators. Once we arrived to the main rest area deep inside the cave we had a snack, a drink of water, and then gathered for our tour of Kings Palace which was to last 1.5 hours. You can only tour Kings Palace with the ranger and the cost was $6 per person. Concluding the tour we had just enough time to do the self-guided walk through the Big Room which was another solid hour. I'm glad we brought snacks and ate in their cafeteria otherwise I don't think we would have had the energy for the Big Room portion. It says no outside snacks but I asked the attendant at the cafeteria if we could eat our granola bars and mixed nuts in the designated area and she was fine with it. I recommend reading the NPS's website as it was a wealth of information in planning the visit - tour times and what you can and cannot bring (no strollers, wheelchairs accessible but not in all portions). We were pooped by the end of all three portions but if you have the time to do all three I highly recommend not skipping any of them. We camped at White's City RV Park right at the entrance (see my separate review of this campground) and came back in the evening for the bat flight program which is another "must do." Buy the $7 re-publication of White's account of discovering Carlsbad Caverns. It's a quick and easy read and interesting to learn the history about the caverns from his point of view.
We camped outside the park at White's RV Resort (I have review there as well).

Date of experience: October 2014
1  Thank SarahMTaylor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"gift shop"
in 90 reviews
"self guided tour"
in 86 reviews
"natural entrance"
in 160 reviews
"big room"
in 200 reviews
"natural wonder"
in 40 reviews
"book store"
in 17 reviews
"kings palace tour"
in 29 reviews
"new mexico"
in 37 reviews
"bucket list"
in 34 reviews
"road trip"
in 18 reviews
"bring a jacket"
in 16 reviews
"take your time"
in 28 reviews
"answer questions"
in 9 reviews
"tunnel tour"
in 11 reviews
"below ground"
in 13 reviews
"left hand"
in 16 reviews
"walk up"
in 11 reviews
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580 - 584 of 925 reviews

Reviewed July 13, 2015

A must Visit on the National Parks List!!! They have lots of information about the cave system in the area. Very information cave tour. VERY VERY COOL PLACE!.

Date of experience: August 2014
1  Thank 744brente
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 10, 2015 via mobile

I grew up going to the caverns. They are amazing and a must see, however this was my first time taking my 2 year old daughter. The park does not allow strollers. It is way to steep and if you were to lose it would either go off a ledge or wipe someone out. My daughter does not like to be carried or put in a carrier- the back packs were out of the question which left us hiking down a trail with a toddler fighting us the whole time. In some parts there is nothing but a foot tall ledge between you and a drop off that would be a death fall for a toddler (not an exaggeration) so letting her walk was also out of the question, especially because she kept trying to run down the steep hill. This is def something for kids over the age of 3 or 4, or for someone who's toddler is fine with a carrier. None of this is meant to reflect badly on the park. The park is a great attraction and fun to see! This is just an FYI for parents who are bringing a head strong-independent toddler. You may want to wait a couple years.

Date of experience: July 2015
Thank Vickie C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 9, 2015

Plenty to see while enjoying the hike down into the caves including a few bats. Enjoy the sights, I recommend walking down and taking the elevator up but you could do both if time and health permits. The visitor center was full of information on the area with gifts, food, etc. Must do and hope to get back there sometime.

Date of experience: July 2015
Thank Carson F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 9, 2015

We were here on March 29, and we really enjoyed our visit to Carlsbad Caverns. We arrived around 9am, spoke to the helpful staff in the Visitor Center, and entered the cave through the Natural Entrance. We had to move fairly quickly to make it down in time for our scheduled tour to begin, so we couldn't pause as much as we might have wanted- it took us about 45 minutes to get down.

We took the King's Palace tour, which we are glad we took, given it is the only way to see those parts of the caverns, but we didn't love the tour. It was much longer than it needed to be, and our kids (ages 4 and 6) got really bored. We were happy to be guided by someone to protect the caves, but the commentary was lengthy and not that informative.

After the tour, we wanted to have lunch in the underground lunchroom, but there wasn't much on offer, so we went upstairs. In the upstairs cafeteria, our food was decent, but the service was terrible- it took almost 45 minutes from the time of ordering to get our food. In the future, I would definitely pack a lunch in a cooler to avoid this.

Then we went back down and toured the Big Room. We were able to do this at our own pace, and although the shorter loop was crowded, we did the full loop and it was less crowded. The sights are not as spectacular as the King's Palace tour, but we did like doing it on our own.

The bats were not in town when we were there, so we did not experience that. After the Big Room, we spent some obligatory time in the gift shop with the kids and were headed back to Carlsbad around 3:30 after taking some time to look at the surrounding desert and thinking a bit about how the caves were formed. So, if you are trying to do this in one day, if you are visiting the main caverns only, it can be done.

The Visitor Center was receiving some upgrades while we were there, but there is definitely a need for some maintenance and updating here- it seemed like a bit of a neglected corner of the NPS. I know they are having budget issues, and I am sure the folks at the park were doing what they could, but the restrooms needed maintenance, with some of the doors not working and sink fixtures being not quite right. There were a number of places where the paths needed some attention. Hopefully these things have been addressed since our visit.

So, visit, spend your money there, support this wonderful natural wonder! It really does need to be seen to be appreciated!

Date of experience: March 2015
1  Thank jld1975
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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