Most Popular Campgrounds in Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Attracting 400,000 visitors each year, Carlsbad Caverns National Park is a natural wonder of epic proportions. It’s main chamber, the aptly named Big Room, is an underground room that is 1800ft long, 255ft high and over 800ft below the surface. To get there, you can either take an elevator that drops the height of the Empire State Building or an eerie 1.25-mile subterranean walk that lures you deep into the caverns yawning darkness.
Unfortunately, there are no developed campgrounds inside the national park. These three are the closest campgrounds that are perfect bascamps for exploring one of the deepest, largest, and most ornate caverns ever found.
1. Rattlesnake Canyon, NM
While there are no developed campgrounds inside the park, there are backcountry options for those willing to hike. Rattlesnake Canyon Campground is a beautiful site located a half-mile down the Rattlesnake Canyon Trail which is found along the Walnut Canyon Desert Drive. This campground will guarantee amazing desert views all to yourself.
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2. Dark Canyon Dispersed, NM
Located about 40 minutes from the national park, Dark Canyon Dispersed is a great spot if you’re after a place to sleep for the night. Here you’ll find a few open areas that are large enough to park an RV. Keep in mind that this is a dispersed campground, so if you’re looking for amenities, shade, or pavement, then this isn’t the campground for you.
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Prepare for your next adventure by downloading maps. The Dyrt PRO lets you download maps and campgrounds without cell service. “My alternative to using pro would be to drive back out to cell service”.
3. Carlsbad KOA, NM
If you wanted to be close to Carlsbad Caverns but didn’t want to cut back on comfort, then Carlsbad KOA has you covered. With a pool, laundry, a game room, food on site and all the amenities you could ever need, this campground feels more like a desert oasis. Having close access to everything the area has to offer as well as showcasing the beauty of the Chihuahuan Desert, this KOA is a great place to hang your hat while you explore.
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Explore Carlsbad Caverns
Boasting 30 miles of passages and the largest subterranean chamber in the US, Carlsbad Caverns is nothing short of an explorer’s paradise. The Caverns are also home to the world’s largest stalagmite and the ever-popular Bottomless Pit. Another major draw is the 400,000-plus Mexican free-tailed bat colony that roosts there from mid-May to mid-October. Watching them cyclone out of the cave’s mouth at sunset is an experience like no other.
The Dyrt’s Ranger duo the Switchback Kids, who spent a year visiting all 59 National Parks, have put together this incredible video to document their firsthand experience in Carlsbad Caverns with the hopes of improving the visit of others.
Switchback Kids Ranger Tip: If you visit in the summer, try to time your visit to include the nightly “bat flight” program, when thousands of bats rush out of the cave to hunt at night.
Win gear for camping Carlsbad Caverns
When you review campsites across the US on The Dyrt, you get the chance to win outdoor gear. In New Mexico, you have the chance to win a $100 gift card from Green Goo, a $150 gift card from Primus, and an MH2 Headlamp from Ledlenser. Check out the contest leaderboard, review your camping experience, earn points for your review, and you could win prizes!