If you are planning a day trip to Carlsbad Caverns (and you should!), be aware that you must have reservations made in advance to tour the caverns. This has caused many tourists to be upset, after they traveled miles only to find out they could not get in.
COVID-19 Operations Update: Reservations Required to Enter Carlsbad Cavern
RESERVATIONS REQUIRED to enter cavern and must be purchased by clicking “more” or calling 877-444-6777. No reservations available at the park. Reservations only select the entry time. Upon arrival at the visitor center, entrance tickets must be purchased.
The Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce and the City of Carlsbad are still receiving complaints from visitors attempting to tour Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Earlier in the year, the issue at the parks was related to long lines – people were coming to visit and then having to wait for several hours only to sometimes find out that they weren’t able to make it into the cavern due to the limited number of people allowed in each day because of COVID-19 restrictions.
The Caverns changed its rules in March to a program requiring online reservations. This helped in that people who made reservations knew what to expect. However, this has caused its own set of problems, as some people are driving to Carlsbad not knowing that online reservations are required and then, after they get here, finding out that the spots have already been taken.
Need To Know
Confirmation Email Required
Confirmation emails for Self-Guided Tour must be presented upon arrival. Cell phone coverage may not be available. Before you arrive, please have your confirmation email saved to your phone or printed out.
Masks are required in the visitor center and cavern, as well as outdoors when social distancing cannot be maintained.
The entry times are based on a 60-minute window beginning with the start time that you select. For example, if you select an 8:30am reservation time, you must enter the cave between 8:30am and 9:30am. There is no time limit after entering the cavern.
Must reserve time for adults AND children
Children 15 and under are free to enter the cavern however, they must hold a reservation time. Please ensure that you account for all adults AND children when you make your reservations.
Reservations: Reservations are available 30 days in advance and up to 48 hours before the tour date.
There are no refunds for Self-Guided Tour reservations (The cancellation fee of $1.00 per ticket is the same price as the reservation).
The Big Room trail is mostly accesible by wheelchair, entry only by elevators. Canes and crutches allowed only if needed for mobility. Please review the Accessibility Guide for more information.
Cave tours are not recommend for people with known heart or respiratory problems, back, knee, or walking issues of any kind, or for people with vertigo or claustrophobia issues. Determine your own physical ability!
Avoid Long Lines
You may experience long wait times to exit the cave by elevator. See park website for additional alerts.
What to Wear
Hiking boots or sturdy shoes are recommended. Sandals or flip-flops are NOT recommended.
Do not wear or bring any items that have been in any other caves or mines. White-nose Syndrome is a disease affecting hibernating bats. Help stop the spread of this fungus.
There is no age limit for the Self-Guided Tour.
Baby Strollers are NOT permitted in the cavern
Food and Drink
Plain water only! Candy, tobacco, vaping products, or gum are NOT permitted to be taken into cavern. The historic Underground Lunchroom offers drinks, sandwiches, and salads.
The average cave temperature is 56 degrees with 90% of humidity year-round.
Hiking poles are NOT permitted in the cave.
Photography, including using a flash, is allowed in the cavern. Be courteous to other visitors. Photography is not allowed during the Bat Flight Program.