Attractions in Carlsbad New Mexico
Carlsbad’s world-class attractions draw in numerous visitors from all over, who take pleasure in the splendor of the area’s picturesque vistas. From national and state parks to intriguing heritage sites, there is something for everyone here.
CARLSBAD CAVERNS NATIONAL PARK
Recognized as the world’s largest underground chambers, Carlsbad Cavern is composed of immense subterranean chambers, remarkable cave formations and further stunning features. Three excellent tour routes, able to accommodate any interest, physical ability and time constraint, are offered to visitors.
Carlsbad Cavern’s history dates back more than 500,000 years when the formation of stalactites, stalagmites and others began to develop. Over 1,000 years ago, prehistoric Indians discovered the cavern, leaving mystifying drawings on its walls near the entrance. The cavern remained untouched until settlers of the 1800s discovered the natural wonder. Carlsbad Caverns was designated as a national monument in 1923, followed by the creation of the Carlsbad Caverns National Park in 1930.
Today, recognized as one of eight world heritage sites, the park includes 46,766 acres and 113 additional caves. One of the area’s top attractions is the Bat Flights spectacle, featured Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend. Every summer evening at sunset, the bats take flight, flying out of the park’s entrance for all to see. Additional activities to do at the Carlsbad Caverns National Park include taking the 9.5-mile Walnut Canyon Desert Drive, hiking the miles upon miles of trails, camping and picnicking. Please visit the new Visitor Center, gift shop and coffee shops.
GUADALUPE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
The majestic Guadalupe Mountains are deemed one of the finest examples of an ancient fossilized reef on Earth, welcoming geologists from all over the world to witness the beauty of this natural marvel. The park, which offers a multitude of outdoor activities within awe-inspiring scenery, can be found just 55 miles southwest of Carlsbad in west Texas. In addition to the extraordinary outdoor laboratory discovered here, approximately 85 miles of trails make the park a hiker’s and horseback rider’s paradise. Popular trails include the McKittrick Trail, the Smith Spring Trail, the Manzanita Springs Trail, the 8.4-mile trail to Guadalupe Peak (the highest peak in Texas, reaching 8,749 feet at the summit) and The Bowl Trail. Additional attractions at the park include the Frijole Ranch History Museum, Williams Ranch and The Pinery, which is the site of the ruins of a stagecoach station.
LIVING DESERT ZOO AND GARDENS STATE PARK
A unique indoor/outdoor living museum, the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park offers its visitors a peek into the life of the beautiful Chihuahuan Desert and its inhabitants. Found in the northwestern portion of Carlsbad, just off U.S. 285, the 1,100-acre zoo is a refuge for many injured and orphaned mammals, reptiles and birds, and currently houses over 40 native animal species, plus hundreds of native and foreign plants. The 1.3-mile self-guided tour (lasting approximately 1.5 hours) traverses the Chihuahuan Desert’s terrain, which is distinguished by sand dunes, desert uplands and gypsum hills. While on the trail, patrons will come across elk, bison, bears, eagles, hawks and a variety of other wildlife. Notably, the zoo is home to endangered Mexican gray wolves. Further highlights include the greenhouse, displaying succulents and cacti from all over the world, and the visitor center, lined with great exhibits and offering a hands-on discovery area. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is overseen by the New Mexico State Parks Division.
LINCOLN NATIONAL FOREST
featuring Sitting Bull Falls State Park
Sitting Bull Falls recreation area is an oasis hidden in the mildest of the desert where a beautiful 150-foot waterfall pours over canyon walls. You will also find picnic tables, charcoal grills, water, restrooms and a paved trail through the canyon ending at the falls. There are 16 miles of canyon land trails for hiking and biking. The falls are open year round. Please call 575-885-4181 for complete hours of operation and fees.
CHRISTMAS ON THE PECOS
Come and experience New Mexico’s outstanding event of the year. Board your pontoon boat and view over 105 homes fully decorated for the holidays during your 45-minute boat tour. Event runs Thanksgiving through New Years Eve. For tickets and further information, please visit the website at www.christmasonthepecos.com or call the ticket office at (575) 628-0952.
BRANTLEY LAKE STATE PARK
Just 12 miles north of Carlsbad, Brantley Lake State Park is a major draw for residents and visitors alike. The park is a great place for water sports, year-round camping, picnicking and educational endeavors, as the Visitor Center is lined with historical exhibits highlighting the Wild West town, Seven Rivers. Brantley Lake is known as the southernmost lake in the state and is an ideal spot for fishing. The lake is home to largemouth bass, walleye, channel catfish, white bass, bluegill and crappy.
Carlsbad enjoys a deep history, which has been preserved through several historical structures and sites. One of the area’s most prominent landmarks is the Pecos River Flume, which made its way into Ripley’s Believe It or Not as “The River that Crosses Itself.” Originally, the flume (finished in 1890) was constructed of wood, but after a disastrous flood in 1902, it was rebuilt in concrete—making it, at that time, the largest concrete structure in the world. Today, the flume is utilized as part of the Carlsbad Irrigation District, carrying water from Lake Avalon into Carlsbad. The Tansill Dam is another famed marker in the area, built in honor of Robert W. Tansill, an affluent manufacturer of the U.S.’s first five-cent cigars and a distinguished resident of the 19th century. Some additional structures standing as some of the community’s oldest include the Eddy House, a one-room building that currently operates as a miniature frontier museum, and the Eddy County Courthouse, built circa 1891.
Visitors to the Carlsbad community can rest comfortablly at night within one of the area’s charming bed and breakfast inns or a full service hotel/motel. Carlsbad also offers camp and RV sites for those who prefer sleeping under the stars.
BED & BREAKFAST INNS
209 W. Main Street | Artesia
(575) 748-2552 | www.artesiaheritageinn.com
AAA White’s City RV Park
17 Carlsbad Caverns Highway White’s City
(575) 785-2291 or (800) CAVERNS
Brantley Lake State Park
12 miles North of Carlsbad (on Highway 285)
(575) 476-3355 or (888) 667-2757 | www.emnrd.state.nm.us
#2 Manthei Road (on U.S. 285) | Carlsbad
(575) 457-2000 or (800) 562-9109 | www.carlsbadkoa.com
Carlsbad RV Park & Campground
4301 National Parks Highway | Carlsbad
(575) 885-6333 | www.carlsbadrvpark.com
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
(915) 828-3251 | www.nps.gov/gumo
Windmill RV Park
3624 National Parks Highway | Carlsbad
Americas Best Value Inn
3706 National Parks Highway | Carlsbad
Best Western Stevens Inn
1829 S. Canal Street | Carlsbad
(575) 887-2851 | www.stevensinncarlsbad.com
2429 W. Pierce Street | Carlsbad
(575) 887-1994 | www.comfortinn.com
3910 National Parks Highway | Carlsbad
(575) 887-7800 | www.daysinn.com
Great Western Inn & Suites
3804 National Parks Highway | Carlsbad
Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites
2210 I W. Pierce Street | Carlsbad
(888) 400-9714 | www.hiexpress.com
3824 National Parks Highway | Carlsbad
(575) 885-0011 | www.motel6.com
1819 S. Canal Street | Carlsbad
3817 National Parks Highway | Carlsbad
(575) 887-8888 | www.super8.com