Experiencing Life
The Hall of Giants shows many cave features.
Licensed Adobe Stock Photo

Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns is one of the largest cave systems in the United States, and the focus will be on the ways organisms adapt to this type of environment. The geology of cave formations, such as stalagmites and stalactites, will also be explored.

Playlist of videos about the area.

The Significance of Carlsbad Caverns National Park

  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park, a world heritage site, contains large caves of world-class importance that have beautiful and diverse speleothems (cave formations); the Big Room in Carlsbad Cavern is the largest, most easily accessible chamber in North America.
  • Lechuguilla Cave is the deepest limestone cave in the United States; it contains speleothems and microbes found nowhere else in the world.
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park preserves a portion of the Capitan Reef -- one of the best preserved, exposed Permian-age fossil reefs in the world. The park's caves and canyons provide visitors with unique opportunities to view this reef from the inside. Capitan Reef has exceptional potential for additional cave discovery, exploration and research.
  • The park contains one of the few protected portions of the northern Chihuahuan Desert ecosystem.
  • Carlsbad Cavern has a world-famous colony of migratory Mexican free-tailed bats.
  • Many species of plants and animals in the park are at the limits of their geographic distribution, including the northernmost and one of the largest colonies of migratory cave swallows in the United States.
  • The park's cultural resources represent a long and varied continuum of human use starting in prehistoric times and illustrating many adaptations to the desert environment.
  • Capitan Reef provides extraordinary scenic vistas, both from the top of the escarpment and from the rugged canyons below; the quality of these vistas depends on excellent air quality.

Related Podcasts:


Trip Menu
  1. Greater Yellowstone
  2. Southeast
  3. Northeast
  4. Four Corners
  5. Northwest
  6. Heartland
  7. California
  8. Great Lakes
  9. Southwest
    1. Very Large Array Telescope
    2. Meteor Crater
    3. Biosphere 2
    4. Saguaro National Park
    5. White Sands National Park
    6. Carlsbad Caverns
    7. McDonald Observatory
    8. Big Bend National Park
  10. Mid-Atlantic
  11. Alaska
  12. Hawaii
Southeast New Mexico [32.2oN, 104.6oW]

Carlsbad Map


  • National Park Service
    • Fact sheets about topics like bats and other wildlife, geology, and fire ecology.
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park UNESCO listing
  • Vequist, G. Research in Carlsbad Caverns National Park: Scientific Exploration and Discovery. Caverns Guadalupe Mountains Association and the National Park Service, 1997.
  • Hill, C. Geological Walking Tour of Carlsbad Cavern. New Mexico Geological Society Guidebook. 44th Field Conference, Carlsbad Region, New Mexico and West Texas. 1993.
  • Cahill, T. "Charting the Wonders of Lechugilla Cave." National Geographic. Vol. 179, No. 3, p. 34. March, 1991.
  • Myers, P. Molossidae. Animal Diversity Web. 1999.
    (The family of free-tailed bats)
  • Madero, A. Mexican Free-Tailed Bat (Tadarida brasiliensis). The Wild Ones. 2000.
    (Includes a picture)
  • Sound of the Free-Tailed Bat (Naturesongs .wav file)
  • Bat Conservation International. Educator's Activity Book about Bats. Austin TX, 1991.
  • AIMS Education Foundation. Bats Incredible. Fresno CA 1993.
  • Tuttle, M.D. "Saving North America's Beleaguered Bats." National Geographic. Vol. 188, No. 2, p. 37. August, 1995.
  • Roof, J. Brown-Headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater). Animal Diversity Web. 1997.
  • Moore, G. W. and Sullivan, G. N. Speleology: The Study of Caves. Cave Books, St. Louis MO, 1978.

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