Some landscapes hold treasures that lay just beneath the surface. That is certainly the case in Carlsbad Caverns National Park. The rugged desert landscapes rest above awe-inspiring rock formations below, captivating hundreds of thousands of yearly visitors.
Located in the Chihuahuan Desert of southeastern New Mexico, the park is certainly a sight to be seen. Before you depart for this desert exploration, read our handy guide to RV camping near Carlsbad Cavern National Park.
Learn about the park, explore its offerings and plan your trip by reading below!
Carlsbad Caverns National Park Facts
Who is ready for some fast facts about the spellbinding park known as Carlsbad Caverns? You can turn these facts into trivia and add it to the list of RV road trip games to keep your family entertained on the road.
While the land is now an arid desert, history reveals that it once stood as part of an underwater reef. Archaeological exploration has uncovered marine fossils in the area that now forms Carlsbad Caverns.
Exploration of the park has led to the discovery of a whopping 120 underground caves! While not all of these caves are open to the public, there is plenty to explore on your own or a ranger-guided tour.
A wide variety of animals can be found in the park. There are currently 67 species of mammals, including deer, javelina, Chihuahuan Desert pocket mice and the rarely seen black bear.
Movie buffs will appreciate this fact. The 1959 sci-fi screenplay Journey to the Center of the Earth used Carlsbad Caverns as a filming location.
Before it became a national park, Carlsbad Caverns was known as “Bat Cave.” In fact, people would explore the cave to harvest guano (aka bat poop) because it served as an effective fertilizer.
Take these five facts about the park with you on your trip to Carlsbad; they won’t take up any room in your RV. Speaking of an RV, you’ll need a place to pull into and unwind on your trip. Ahead, let’s uncover five prime sites for RV camping near Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
Best Carlsbad Caverns National Park RV Parks and Campgrounds
Here’s one more fact about Carlsbad Caverns National Park—there are no camping sites inside the park. Never fear! The nearby Guadalupe Mountains National Park and other spots provide excellent campsite opportunities. Keep reading to find awesome RV parks near Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
Amenities: First on our list of Carlsbad Caverns National Park RV campgrounds is Chosa Campground. Rattlesnake Springs' lush green vegetation and peaceful water offer visitors a desert oasis where they can kick up their feet. The fenced-in space does not offer much in the way of amenities. There are trash cans on-site, and pets are allowed. But camping here is free, making this a great place to spend the night in your RV.
Capacity: This site can accommodate RVs of all sizes, including class A motorhomes. The large lot can fit over 20 RVs.
More information: Chosa Campground
Pine Springs Campground
Amenities: The next location is technically not a Carlsbad Caverns National Park RV site. Pine Springs Campground is located inside Guadalupe Mountains National Park and is about 35 minutes away from Carlsbad Caverns. At over 5,000 feet elevation, the sunrise and sunset views are gorgeous at this campground. It offers a water station for visitors to fill up at and welcomes pets.
Capacity: This campground has 19 sites that can accommodate RVs.
More information: Pine Springs Campground
Camp Washington Ranch
Amenities: When it comes to RV parks near Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Camp Washington Ranch is a sweet spot. It offers electric and water hookups for RVs along with a dump station. The location also has showers available for use. Since Camp Washington Ranch is just 10 minutes from the park, it’s a convenient location to pull into each night.
Capacity: This site has limited RV space. With just three spots, it’s important to reserve your place ahead of time.
More information: Camp Washington Ranch
White’s City RV Park
Amenities: Still on the hunt for RV camping near Carlsbad Caverns National Park? White’s City RV Park offers full hookups for RVs. That means you’ll have access to electric, water and sewer hookups for a comfortable stay. The grounds offer pull-through sites, vending machines, barbeque grills and a laundry facility.
Capacity: While the park does not take reservations, they typically have multiple spots available due to the large size of the grounds.
More information: White’s City RV Park
Carlsbad RV Park & Campground
Amenities: This is one of the Carlsbad Caverns National Park RV parks that is packed full of amenities. You’ll find an indoor heated pool, RV supply store, fire pit, tire swing, laundry room and more on the grounds. While many campgrounds require pets to be leashed, this site has three areas for off-leash play. With electrical and water hookups, you’ll have the amenities you need.
Capacity: This site has 138 RV sites.
More information: Carlsbad RV Park & Campground
Photo Credit: Instagram User @lupimazz
Best Time to Visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park for RV Camping
Would you look at that? We’ve zoomed through a handful of Carlsbad Caverns National Park RV campgrounds and learned some fun facts about this southwestern beauty. It appears we’ve arrived at the next stop—a tour through the seasons at Carlsbad.
Determining the best time to visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park is simple; just read below!
Mild winter weather is typical in Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Highs hover in the 50s and low 60s, making outdoor hiking possible. Since the park seldom receives snow, trails remain open for use. Plus, the caves remain at a constant 56 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes underground exploration a year-round activity.
If you’re in search of warmer temperatures, spring is a beautiful time to visit the park. When March rolls around, highs stretch into the mid-60s. Temperatures continue to warm up in April, hitting the low 70s. According to the National Park Service, it’s common to see an influx of visitors beginning in the spring.
Pack the sunscreen! Summer is sweltering at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. May through August is a popular time for visitors to head to the park for bat viewing and cave exploration. However, temperatures often reach the 90s and low 100s.
If you do plan to hike, make sure to stay hydrated. If the heat is too much, cool off in the caves below. The steady, pleasant temperatures in the caverns will be a welcome break from the heat above.
In early fall (late August through September), frequent rainfall is common. But don’t worry, you can stay dry while exploring the caverns below. Temperatures cool off as fall progresses, bringing highs in the 70s that make for pleasant hiking trips. The desert is in bloom during fall, and the rush of summer visitors calms down, making this season one of the best times to visit the park.
Things to Do in Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Some like to enjoy the park at a leisurely pace. Others want to fill the itinerary to create a jam-packed schedule of activities. No matter what camp you fall into, this list will ensure you’ll have plenty of things to do in Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Here we go!
Watch the bats take flight. The most popular mammals at Carlsbad Caverns National Park are the bats that reside underground. Each night, the bats emerge from the caves to search for food. You can watch these nocturnal creatures emerge in droves on a ranger-led bat watch. The best time to see the bats fly is from August to September.
Venture into the depths of the park. Step underground to explore the impressive rock formations that fill the caverns of this national park. Ranger-led tours provide education and direction for visitors eager to take in the enchanting caves. If you’d rather take a solo exploration session, self-guided cave tours are allowed.
Enjoy a picnic with a view. Rattlesnake Springs' lush green vegetation and peaceful water offer visitors a desert oasis where they can kick up their feet. Picnic tables around the spring make this a great place to refuel before the next adventure. The blue and green hues of the peaceful water offer a beautiful contrast to the red and brown desert terrain.
Explore the landscape aboveground. There’s more to see than the caverns beneath the earth! Take a hike to explore the diverse flora and fauna that reside in this national park. You can take a short stroll to Walnut Canyon Overlook or embark on a challenging hike along Guadalupe Ridge.
Tips on Visiting Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Located in the most diverse desert in the Western Hemisphere, Carlsbad Caverns National Park has more in store than what first meets the eye. For an enlightening journey and a full experience of this desert gem, be sure to follow these helpful tips!
Refrain from bringing any food into the caverns when you visit. The scent of it can lure animals from above ground into the caverns. Unfortunately, animals can get lost and starve in the caves. So be sure to take any snacks and food items out of your pockets and bags before embarking on a cave tour.
Pack a headlamp and flashlight for the trip. These devices will help illuminate the dim underground caves. With proper lighting, you’ll be able to see the stalagmites, limestone shelves and other geological wonders in their full glory. Bring extra batteries so that you’re prepared if a light goes out.
Ensure you park in the right section. When you arrive at the visitor center, there will be two parking lots. For RVers, the first parking lot is the ideal location for parking. Once you pull in, head to the back of that lot and park your vehicle.
Last but not least, make sure you pack a solid pair of closed-toed shoes for walking in the caves. Certain cave tours require this type of footwear and will turn you away if you are wearing sandals or other open-toed shoes.
Photo Credit: Instagram User @guguandtheboys
RV Rental for Carlsbad Caverns National Park
What a time we’ve had together learning more about the natural wonders of Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Now that you’re familiar with the park seasons, the activities you can participate in and RV campgrounds for your stay, we’re almost to the end of our guide. Last on the list is finding an RV rental for Carlsbad Caverns National Park!
With over 45 years in the RV rental industry, Cruise America has helped hundreds of thousands of adventurers find the right vehicle for their travels. With custom-manufactured models, you can be sure you’re getting a safe, reliable RV that’s designed with comfort in mind.
New to the RV world? Cruise America will support you every step of the way from an on-site orientation to our 24/7 traveler’s assistance line.
Make your Carlsbad trip a comfortable and memorable one with a Cruise America RV rental!