Carlsbad has a number of fun attractions. Outdoor lovers will find city parks, lakes, and hiking trails, along with Carlsbad Caverns National Park, located just 20 miles southwest of the city. To get the most out of your visit, put this beautiful underground palace on your must-see list.
Sometimes referred to as "the Grand Canyon with a roof on it," Carlsbad Caverns isn’t your average hole in the ground. Formed over millions of years and still evolving today, the vast and ancient cave system is a geological wonder, famous for the enormous size of its grand cavern and the abundance and beauty of its mineral rock formations. Carlsbad Caverns actually comprises 119 known caves, including the most frequently visited Big Room, which is the size of eight football fields. The map of the caverns covers 30 miles, but parts are still unexplored. A new chamber, Halloween Hall, was discovered just three years ago, on Oct. 31, 2013.
Tourists in the early 1900s visited the Big Room by descending thousands of feet in an old mining bucket. Today, you take a 75-story elevator or hike the steep switchback trail. The caves are the summer home for thousands of Brazilian free-tailed bats. Plan your visit between May and October and stay till sunset for the show, when clouds of bats pour out of the caves for their nightly hunt. nps.gov/cave
Bring a light jacket; below ground, the temperature is a consistent 56 degrees F. Also, comfortable non-slip footwear is a must.
Explore Carlsbad beyond the caverns.
Living Desert Zoo and Garden State Park
The attraction features a 1.3-mile paved hiking trail though botanical gardens with native plants; a zoo with more than 40 species of animals; an aviary, which houses New Mexico’s state bird, the roadrunner; and the grand greenhouse, with hundreds of succulents and cacti from around the world. www.emnrd.state.nm.us/spd
Carlsbad Museum and Art Center
Founded in 1931, the Carlsbad Museum and Art Center will acquaint you with the history of the area and features artifacts, artwork, and historical documents. cityofcarlsbadnm.com/museum.cfm
Christmas on the Pecos
Holiday visitors may experience a special magic: Christmas on the Pecos. Sponsored by the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, this festive annual event invites visitors aboard a 40-minute boat ride to see the dazzling light shows created by the homeowners along the Pecos riverbanks. christmasonthepecos.com
Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
Photo by Thinkstockphotos.com
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Located 54 miles southwest across the border in Texas, this national park is known for its great hiking trails and features one of the world’s best examples of a fossil reef from the Permian Era. nps.gov/gumo/index.htm