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Carlsbad Caverns, NM

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A couple and their child visit Carlsbad Cavern as stalactites hang from the ceiling of the underground chamber in New Mexico.

A couple and their child visit Carlsbad Cavern as stalactites hang from the ceiling of the underground chamber in New Mexico.

Carlsbad Caverns are beneath the Chihuahuan desert near Carlsbad, New Mexico.

Carlsbad Caverns are beneath the Chihuahuan desert near Carlsbad, New Mexico.

A wall of stalactites at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico.

A wall of stalactites at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico.

On the surface, Carlsbad Caverns National Park is deceptively normal—but all bets are off once visitors set foot in the elevator, which plunges 75 stories underground. The country beneath the surface is part silky darkness, part subterranean hallucination. The snaky, illuminated walkway seems less like a trail and more like a foray across the River Styx and into the underworld. Within more than 14 football fields of subterranean space are hundreds of formations that alternately resemble cakes, soda straws, ocean waves, and the large, leering face of a mountain troll. - Copyright © 2014 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House, LLC. All rights reserved.

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  • 83° / 61°
  • Avg Temp in September
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Things you can't miss

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This Room Should Be Called Enormous

The Big Room Tour, the park’s most popular experience, meanders 1.25 miles past famous sights such as the Hall of Giants.

This Room Should Be Called Enormous

Image Credit: Alamy

Take a Walk Into the Caverns’ Heart

Accessing the cave via the Natural Entrance means descending 800 feet along a one-mile route. At times the ceiling rises more than 200 feet overhead.

Take a Walk Into the Caverns’ Heart

Image Credit: Alamy

The Deepest Cave Section Open to the Public

The most popular of the ranger-led walks, the King’s Palace Tour passes some of the cave’s most elaborate and beautiful formations.

The Deepest Cave Section Open to the Public

Image Credit: Alamy

Nature Puts On an Amazing Nightly Show

From spring through mid-October, hundreds of thousands of bats leave the cave at dusk to feed. Attend a ranger lecture and then watch the spectacle.

Nature Puts On an Amazing Nightly Show

Image Credit: Alamy

Visit a True Desert Oasis

About eight miles south of the park entrance, Rattlesnake Springs protects a wetland that attracts wildlife, including rare birds and amphibians.

Visit a True Desert Oasis

Image Credit: Alamy

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Must Reads Before You Go

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