Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Last updated 4/25/24

On the surface, Carlsbad Caverns is a place where you can go deep underground in a huge cave. But, below the surface, a beautiful world of shapes and colors awaits anyone willing to enter the underworld. This can be done by a hike into the natural entrance, or it can be done via an elevator that leads to paved paths. So, nearly anyone of any ability level can enjoy it! You can even buy and eat a basic lunch in the cave!

But, be sure to bring a light jacket if cool, humid air bothers you, because the temperature underground is always about 56 degrees F. The temperature in the cave is the same year-round, so you can escape the summer desert heat or cold winter days underground.

A Kia EV9 parked near the entrance to the park on our most recent trip (April 2024).

If you are there on a summer evening (especially late summer), there’s a program where you can sit at the natural entrance and watch the bats leave to go hunting for bugs at sunset. Outside on the surface, there are walking and driving trails, as well as several other caves that are only accessible either on a guided ranger tour or as part of a permitted expedition. The main cave also has lower levels and side tunnels that are only accessible as part of a guided tour.

The park is not pet friendly at all (kennels are available on the surface), nor is it stroller friendly, so plan accordingly. Food is available on site and in nearby Whites City near the park entrance, but hours are limited. The city of Carlsbad has all sorts of food, and is 20-30 minutes away.

Getting There In An EV

Quick Facts and Tips:

  • The park itself does not have any EV charging or lodging, but there is a small gateway community just outside the park (Whites City). It has a motel, an RV park, food, and gas. But, Plugshare users report that the RV park charges a lot for EV charging. The RV park and the hotel are owned by the same company, but be sure to talk to both offices to make sure you can charge on the same night you reserve a room if that’s your plan, as sometimes the RV park is full.
  • Nearby Carlsbad (20 miles from the park entrance) does not have fast charging yet, but it does have Level 2 (240v) charging at one hotel (adapter needed for non-Tesla vehicles) and at a McDonald’s.
  • Nearest DC fast charging is in Artesia, NM, Van Horn, Texas, and El Paso, Texas. Most EVs can reach the Park or Carlsbad from Van Horn, Pecos, or Artesia, but getting from El Paso to Carlsbad is more than some EVs can do, and there is absolutely no charging on that route.
  • A fast charging station is planned for Carlsbad, but a timeframe and exact location is not presently known.

Because there’s so little charging in the area, it’s definitely a good idea to use trip planning software to make sure you have plenty of energy to make it. It may be a good idea to combine this park with a trip to Guadalupe Mountains National Park as they are along the same highway. Most EVs can make it from Carlsbad to Van Horn on a full charge, especially if you charge in Whites City.

If you have an extra few days to spend in the area, you might consider seeing the back sides of both Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains National Park. An amazing rim road (high clearance recommended), a little-visited campground, some movie-quality waterfalls, and cooler air in the spring and fall are all worth seeing in the Guadalupe Mountains. There’s a small town called Queen that’s about an hour outside of Carlsbad called Queen that could make a good base camp for that area, and it has an RV park with 50-amp service (EV charging allowed), two cabins, and a store/restaurant.

If you’re particularly adventurous and have an EV with a little clearance, you can enter the area on the Guadalupe Rim road that runs from near NM Highway 24 to near Queen. With a full charge in Alamogordo or Cloudcroft, most electric trucks and SUVs can make the drive and you get rewarded with some amazing views!

Here are some photos of the Guadalupe Rim drive:

Links For Further Park and Nearby Information

Here’s a great video giving a basic overview of the park:

Featured image by Jennifer Sensiba.