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  • Writer's pictureBrian Childress

Carlsbad Cavern National Park - Carlsbad, New Mexico

Updated: Sep 8, 2021

Carlsbad Caverns National Park is an American national park in the Guadalupe Mountains of southeastern New Mexico. The primary attraction of the park is the show cave, Carlsbad Cavern. Visitors to the cave can hike in on their own via the natural entrance or take an elevator from the visitor center.

Carlsbad Cavern includes a large limestone chamber, named simply the Big Room, which is almost 4,000 feet long, 625 feet wide, and 255 feet high at its highest point. The Big Room is the largest chamber in North America and the thirty-first largest in the world.

Our review is this is a national park you want to go out of your way to visit. The main attraction is the Cavern but the drive from the entrance of the park to the visitor center where the cavern is located is approximately 30 minutes and the views are spectacular.

Bat information you may not know:

There are over 1,400 species of bats worldwide. Bats can be found on nearly every part of the planet except in extreme deserts and polar regions.

Even though bears and bats are the two most well-known hibernators, not all bats spend their winter in caves. Some bat species like the spotted bat survive by migrating in search of food to warmer areas when it gets chilly.

Owls, hawks and snakes eat bats, but that’s nothing compared to the millions of bats dying from White-Nose Syndrome. The disease -- named for a white fungus on the muzzle and wings of bats -- affects hibernating bats and has been detected in 33 states and seven Canadian provinces. More than 6.5 million bats have died so far from White-Nose Syndrome. Scientists are working to understand the disease.

Simply left alone, bats are primarily harmless and highly beneficial, essential parts of the ecosystem and vital to the balance of nature around the world. Left undisturbed, each night, they eat thousands of flying insects that are agricultural pests, pollinate and spread seeds, and fertilize plants with their waste.

Over 300 species of fruit depend on bats for pollination. Bats help spread seeds for nuts, figs and cacao -- the main ingredient in chocolate. Without bats, we also wouldn’t have plants like agave or the iconic saguaro cactus.

Night insects have the most to fear from bats. Each night, bats can eat their body weight or more in insects, numbering in the thousands! And because bats eat so many insects -- which have exoskeletons made of a shiny material called chitin -- some bat poop sparkles (cool but weird fact, we know)! This insect-heavy diet helps foresters and farmers protect their crops from pests.

Bats are the only flying mammal.While the flying squirrel can only glide for short distances, bats are true fliers. A bat’s wing resembles a modified human hand -- imagine the skin between your fingers larger, thinner and stretched.

Bats may be small, but they’re fast little creatures. How fast a bat flies depends on the species, but they can reach speeds over 100 miles per hour according to new research.

Bats are inspiring medical marvels. About 80 medicines come from plants that rely on bats for their survival. While bats are not blind, studying how bats use echolocation has helped scientists develop navigational aids for the blind. Research on bats has also led to advances in vaccines.

Things to do and see:

Feel small in the Big Room at the bottom of the cavern.

Catch the Bat Flight at sunset.

What time do the bats come out of Carlsbad Caverns? The bats typically leave at 28 minutes past sunset, known as civil twilight. Depending on a number of factors. The bats typically return to the cave entrance between 4 and 6 AM, with the peak number of bats entering at dawn.

Contact information:

3225 National Parks Highway Carlsbad, NM 88220

Phone: (575) 785-2232

Road leading to Cavern Visitor Center and Cavern Entrance.

Rock shelters on road to Cavern Visitor Center.

Visitor Center

Amphitheater at entrance of Caverns where Bat Flights take place.

Contributed photo - Brazilian Free-Tailed Bat

The Big Room

Reception area to include gift shop, snack area, bathrooms, and elevator at bottom of cavern next to the “Big Room”

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