Carlsbad Caverns national park with kids

What to do in Carlsbad Caverns National Park with Kids

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Heading to Carlsbad Caverns National Park and wondering what to do with kids in Carlsbad Cavern National Park? You’ve come to the right place! Read our guide to find out what the best hiking trails in Carlsbad Caverns National Park are as well as what there is to do with kids.

what to do in Carlsbad Caverns national park with kids

How to get to Carlsbad Caverns National Park

The closest major airport to Carlsbad Caverns is El Paso, 2 hours and 20 minutes away. Albuquerque is 4.5 hours, and Tucson is 7 hours away. This is a great park to combine with White Sands National Park, which is 3 hours away and Guadalupe Mountains National Park, which is just 30 minutes away.

Best time to visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park

The best time to visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park is in the winter, spring or fall, when the temperatures are tolerable. Summers get super hot here, often exceeding 100 degrees. We visited in late November and it was actually super cold so maybe spring is a better option.

Where to stay when visiting Carlsbad Caverns National Park

While Carlsbad Caverns National Park offers no lodging options within the park, there are several options in nearby communities.

Camping near Carlsbad Caverns National Park

There are no campgrounds or RV parking in Carlsbad Cavern National Park. A campground with amenities is available in White’s City or Carlsbad, NM.

Best family-friendly hotels near Carlsbad Caverns National Park

The city of Carlsbad, which is about 20 minutes from the park entrance, has many family friendly hotels near Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Things to bring when visiting Carlsbad Caverns National Park with kids

  • National Parks Journal: Turn your trip into an educational experience by having your kids fill out a journal entry for their trip.
  • A jacket or sweatshirt: The inside of the cave is cool, even in the summer months, so be sure you have a jacket with you.
  • Headlamp: While you don’t technically need this, they do sell this in the gift shop and a few people were using them, so bring your own.

Books and games about Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Things to do in Carlsbad Caverns National Park with kids

Take a cave tour

Of course this seems obvious, but this is definitely the highlight of visiting the park! Be sure to reserve your entrance time on recreation.gov. or you won’t be able to buy tickets. Then, you will purchase entrance tickets when you arrive, at the visitor center. We did the Big Room trail, which is about a mile long, because we wanted something shorter than the other options. If you have any National Park passes, including the 4th grade pass, your tickets will be free.

Carlsbad Caverns national park with kids
Carlsbad Caverns national park with kids
Carlsbad Caverns national park with kids
Carlsbad Caverns national park with kids

Junior Ranger program in Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Just like all of the other National Parks, Carlsbad Caverns has a Junior Ranger program for kids. Be sure to pick up an activity booklet so your kids can earn their ranger badge.

Carlsbad Caverns national park with kids

Where to eat with kids near Carlsbad Caverns National Park

The Carlsbad Caverns Trading Company, located in the visitor center, has limited food options. Keep in mind, you cannot bring any food into the cave. If you want more options, head to the city of Carlsbad where there are many restaurants to choose from.

Have you been to Carlsbad Caverns National Park with kids? We loved exploring the cave and Milana enjoyed learning about the area in her Junior Ranger booklet. Be sure to keep driving to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, which is just 30 minutes from here!

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