Top Ten U.S. Caves
Visitors may enter and exit Carlsbad Cavern's 14-acre Big Room, one of the world's largest underground chambers, via high-speed elevators, or go for the "traditional explorer's route"—750 feet down a steep and winding path. The self-guided Big Room Route passes by amazing rock formations created by the interaction of rain, carbon dioxide, and limestone—such as the Bottomless Pit, the Devil's Den, and the Swiss cheese—like Boneyard.
Over 30 miles long and 1,037 feet deep, the birth of Carlsbad Cavern itself began 250 million years ago. From the marine-life remains of an ancient inland sea came a reef. Buried under mineral deposits when the seawater evaporated, subsequent uplift and erosion brought the reef to the surface once more. Finally, rainwater trickling down through cracks and gases floating up from below slowly dissolved the soft limestone into the huge chambers at which we marvel today.
Just the Facts
Open: All year
Cave temperature: 56° Fahrenheit year-round
Location: Southeast New Mexico
Special Feature: From early spring to October, thousands of bats exit the cavern for their nightly insect feast. Take in the mass exodus from the outdoor amphitheater at the natural entrance.
For more information: Call Carlsbad Caverns National Park at (505) 785-2232, or visit www.carlsbad.caverns.national-park.com
Explore Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication