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9 Carlsbad Caverns Boondocking Locations (Updated 2022)

The Carlsbad National Park is a subterranean wonderland that we had the chance to visit and would recommend to anyone else, especially families with children. If you love underground adventures, then you should plan a visit as you will be pretty impressed.

I would anyone going to take a Carlsbad Caverns virtual tour before your visit.  This will tell you how you want to visit the caverns.  There are elevators you may want to use .


Want more ideas to round-out your trip to New Mexico?
A lot of great ideas are in these posts!


I loved the geological formations a lot and am sure you will love them too. Most people visit this park in summer like I did because the underground caves are very cool, not for the incredible views.

I got to participate in a lot of activities like hiking and going on nature trails. I explored the caverns ad went on several scenic drives that were worth it. The night came, we gazed at the stars until we were too were tired and slept in our RTT. Read through so that you can learn more about our adventures at Carlsbad Caverns National park.

 History of Carlsbad Caverns National Park

While at the park, I also learned a lot about the Carlsbad Caverns facts through the ranger-led programs. The Carlsbad Caverns National Park is located in the Guadalupe Mountains in the state of New Mexico. It is a series of natural limestone caves, and the one I loved was the Big Room.

It was the one that impressed me the most, it had a great formation, and its size was enormous. Other multiple chambers had great views that you should also not miss out on. The park is also very rich in Speleotherm formations that you will love and several underground pools. I got to see hundreds of bats which are great to see at night.

Carlsbad Caverns (9)

9 Free Carlsbad Caverns National Park Boondocking Locations



1. Carlsbad Caverns National Park Boondocking Locations – Carlsbad Caverns BLM Boondocking

Address
Carlsbad, New Mexico
GPS: 32.040596, -104.457909
Elevation: 3840′

Management: Bureau of Land Management

The road in is Gravel and 1 miles from a paved road. Carlsbad Caverns BLM boondocking is open Year Round. The maximum RV length at Carlsbad Caverns BLM boondocking is big rig. You may stay 14 Days at Carlsbad Caverns BLM boondocking.

Best Review:

This spot was difficult to find. Off the road to the right. If you go past the turn to get to it, you will be driving on a very bumpy bad road until you can turn around. When you see the cattle trough..this is where you need to be. Don’t keep driving down road because you could get stuck. Once we parked near cattle trough we were ok. Lots of cow poop but since it was freezing it didn’t smell! Beautiful sunrise! Stayed one night for a few hours just to sleep.

2. Carlsbad Caverns National Park Boondocking Free Campsites – Chosa Campground BLM near Carlsbad Caverns

Address
Dillahunty Rd.
Carlsbad, New Mexico
GPS: 32.0885, -104.4321
Elevation: 3740′

Management: Bureau of Land Management

The road in is Gravel and 3 miles from a paved road. Chosa Campground BLM near Carlsbad Caverns is open all year. There are 16-29 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is unlimited. You may stay 14 days at Chosa Campground BLM near Carlsbad Caverns.

Best Review:

Chose this location for 3 day, 2 night stay to visit Carlsbad Caverns N.P. and surrounding area. Large site, approximately 400ft x 400ft with trash dumpster in the SE corner. We stayed in a 37 foot 5th wheel, and there were several other similar sized rigs that stayed while we were here. There were also small bumper pulls and other mixtures of vehicles (vans, cars, etc). Light 18 wheel traffic on the road passing by, but even at night it was not a bother.

3. Carlsbad Caverns National Park Boondocking Spots – Sunset Reef Campground

Address
Carlsbad, New Mexico
GPS: 32.114678, -104.425641
Elevation: 3622′

Management: Bureau of Land Management

The road in is Gravel. There are 6-15 campsites at this location. You may stay 5 at Sunset Reef Campground. Gravel road first right off Washington Ranch Road, gravel campsite with several roofed picnic tables, metal grills and rings. Good for campers, has trail toilet, no running water.

Amenities:

BBQ Grill
Fire Ring
Picnic Tables
Restrooms
Trash Cans

Best Review:

What a beautiful place on the Earth. There are some fire rings and picnic tables, but there are only five designated for RVs. I showed up on Friday afternoon and it was full with several RVs parked along the perimeter. The lot is plenty big, so I parked around the perimeter too. I may not have had a picnic table, but I did have the best view in the park.

4. Carlsbad Caverns National Park Free Camping Locations – BLM Land at MM 10 on HWY 62

Address
Mile Marker 10 Hwy 62
Carlsbad, New Mexico
GPS: 32.096839, -104.4172
Elevation: 3652′

Management: Bureau of Land Management

The road in is Gravel and 1 miles from a paved road. BLM Land at MM 10 on HWY 62 is open All Year. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is unlimited. You may stay 14 days at BLM Land at MM 10 on HWY 62.

Best Review:

Road in at mm10 is currently being decommissioned for camping.. sites all levelled out, fire rings dispersed and access points lightly ditched.. a sign is posted for No Camping.. my take is this is not done by BLM but perhaps by a new lease holder.. we found a spot about a mile up the road, stayed 2 nights and no one paid any attention to us.. a few rigs were parking along the road parallel to the highway which works, but deeper in provided privacy.. we did not use a fire ring..

5. Carlsbad Caverns National Park Boondocking Locations – Parks Ranch

Address
White’s City, New Mexico
GPS: 32.110352, -104.406509
Elevation: 3566′

Management: Bureau of Land Management

The road in is Dirt and <5 miles from a paved road. You may stay 14 Nights at Parks Ranch

Best Review:

Stayed here 5 nights. Very quiet and nice scenery overlooking the Chihuahuan Desrt and Guadalupe Mountains. Good cell service for AT&T and Verizon. Depspite the sign recommending no RVs and travel trailers, we entired up anyway. The road is a bit rough but not rutted. Just take it slow. There are several spots suitable for trailers and RVs not too far in. Vreat place!

6. Carlsbad Caverns National Park Boondocking Free Campsites – Picnic Stop by Sitting Bull Falls

Address
Carlsbad, New Mexico
GPS: 32.287559, -104.610908
Elevation: 4182′

Management: Rest Area

The road in is Paved. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is unlimited. You may stay 1 night at Picnic Stop by Sitting Bull Falls.

Best Review:

There are a few nice primitive campsites just outside the day use area. Max stay is 14 days. There us a sign on the cattle guard just before the gates that say no camping past this point. The staff at SBF are pretty friendly. Make sure you dont leave a mess. There is only 2 volunteers out there and they are working their butts off to keep that place clean!!! There us no cell service in the canyon.

7. Carlsbad Caverns National Park Boondocking Spots – Rest Area Guadalupe Mountains

Address
Mc Kittrick Canyon, Texas
GPS: 31.96085, -104.67921
Elevation: 4662′

Management: Rest Area

The road in is Paved. Rest Area Guadalupe Mountains is open All year. There are 16-29 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is unlimited. You may stay Any at Rest Area Guadalupe Mountains.

Best Review:

This is a very nice rest area- lots of spaces for RV and truck parking. Safe. The rest stop is immaculately clean, and the building has an interesting display of the history of the area – worth reading about. We stayed here one night when we pulled in after dark. You do hear the traffic, but ear plugs take care of that.

8. Carlsbad Caverns National Park Free Camping Locations – Dark Canyon

Address
Carlsbad, New Mexico
GPS: 32.290279, -104.348104
Elevation: 3455′

Management: Bureau of Land Management

The road in is Paved. Dark Canyon is open Year-round. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 80′. You may stay 14 Nights at Dark Canyon. Medium sized BLM boondocking spot (dirt) next to the road that leads deep into the forest.

Best Review:

The campsites in the immediate area of the GPS location have been blocked off. Keep going until you pass the rock quarry. There are more campsites down there. I walked around the canyon a bit it is a cool place.

9. Carlsbad Caverns National Park Boondocking Locations – Dark Canyon Boondocking

Address
GPS: 32.293467, -104.3195

Management: Bureau of Land Management

Free Dispersed Camping on Champion Rd. -> No Reservations.

Best Review:

This spot is still BLM land and is a little more private (from other campers) then the one just before it on Dark Canyon. It has a really nice view of some slightly rolling limestone hills and a beautiful sunset. Windy in the spring, but thats just how it is. It is closer to the actual road then the other spot, where we stayed two nights before, but isn’t packed with RVs and larger campers.

Our 10 Favorite Carlsbad Caverns National Park Hiking Trails



Ancient seas helped carve cave systems in the limestone of the Guadalupe Mountains to form what is present-day Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Obviously, most visitors to the park come for the self-guided and ranger-guided cave tours and rightfully so. However, the canyons and desert landscape are quite beautiful and hikers should not pass up the opportunity to hit the trails! Below I’ve listed the 3 hikes in Carlsbad Caverns that you’ll want to try.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park Hiking Trail #1. Chihuahua Desert Nature Trail and Carlsbad Caverns Visitor Center

1. Chihuahua Desert Nature TrailCarlsbad Caverns National Park Boondocking Locations

This was one of the easiest trails that I had the chance to go on. It was 1.9km long and located near Whites city in the state of New Mexico. I came across a cave, and you can choose to go down the caverns by using the elevator or hiking. I decided to hike down, and it was very beautiful; the bat cave looked like a big black hole, so make sure you carry a flashlight.

Some parts were steep, and some were slippery, so make sure you wear the proper shoes. If you decide to tour the caverns as I did, it will take you like four hours, and I also loved that they had restrooms there.

Length: 1.2 mi
Elevation gain: 72 ft
Route type: Loop

Wheelchair friendly, Kid friendly, Stroller friendly, Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, Cave, Partially paved, Views, Fee, No dogs

Carlsbad Caverns National Park Hiking Trail #2. Yucca Canyon Trail

2. Yucca Canyon TrailCarlsbad Caverns National Park Boondocking Locations

I would rate this trail as moderate; it measures 6.1km long and is located near Whites City. I liked the beautiful wildflowers on the way, and you can also use them for bird watching and nature trips. The trail did not have a lot of people, which I loved a lot.

Make sure that you are aware of your surroundings because this place is a mountain lion habitat. At first, I was alone, but the trail got very busy and narrow in some areas after a while. There isn’t much shade on this trail so bring plenty of water to remain hydrated.

Length: 3.8 mi
Elevation gain: 1,456 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, Bird watching, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Closed, Fee, No dogs

Carlsbad Caverns National Park Hiking Trail #3. Slaughter Canyon Cave Trail

3. Slaughter Canyon Cave TrailCarlsbad Caverns National Park Boondocking Locations

This trail can be rated as easy/moderate; it is 1.6km long and near Whites City. It features lovely wildflowers and is accessible all year round. It also lacks shading, so bring plenty of water. Some places are a bit rocky, but I appreciated the fantastic views. It was also very cool to see the cave located at the end.

Length: 1.0 mi
Elevation gain: 462 ft
Route type: Out & back

Kid friendly, Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, Bird watching, Cave, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Fee, No dogs

Carlsbad Caverns National Park Hiking Trail #4. Rattlesnake Canyon Upper Loop

4. Rattlesnake Canyon Upper LoopCarlsbad Caverns National Park Free Camping Locations

 

This trail is 9.5km long and can be rated as moderate. It is located near Carlsbad, and I got to see lovely wildflowers. It is very scenic, especially at the top, and I would advise you to hike counterclockwise as it is less challenging. It took me around three hours to finish the entire loop, but the beautiful views were worth it.

Length: 5.9 mi
Elevation gain: 770 ft
Route type: Loop

Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, Bird watching, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Fee

Carlsbad Caverns National Park Hiking Trail #5. Rattlesnake Canyon

5. Rattlesnake CanyonCarlsbad Caverns National Park Free Camping Locations Carlsbad Caverns National Park Free RV Parking Locations

The Rattlesnake Canyon in Carlsbad Caverns National Park is 8.7km long and features lovely wildflowers. In general, I enjoyed the hike, and it had beautiful sceneries. I loved a canyon in the middle, and I was awed by some strange plants. Some of the terrains were also a bit strange to me.

Length: 5.4 mi
Elevation gain: 682 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, Bird watching, Views, Wildflowers, Fee

Carlsbad Caverns National Park Hiking Trail #6. Juniper Ridge Trail

6. Juniper Ridge Trail Carlsbad Caverns National Park Hiking Trail

I would recommend this trail for families with kids because it is easy to maneuver. It is 3.1km long, and you will get to see beautiful wildflowers. You can use it for bird watching and nature trips too. It was generally a wonderful hike, and we followed the stack of stones until we reached the top.

Length: 1.9 mi
Elevation gain: 462 ft
Route type: Out & back

Kid friendly, Hiking, Nature trips, Bird watching, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Fee, No dogs

Carlsbad Caverns National Park Hiking Trail #7. North Slaughter Canyon Trail

7. North Slaughter Canyon Trail

Another great hiking trail in Carlsbad Caverns National Park is the North Slaughter Canyon Trail. It is 17.9km long and features lovely wildflowers. I can rate it as moderate because it is very rocky. However, I liked that it was well maintained and how visible the trail markers were. Once you are through the first ascent, it can get steep and thin in some areas. The views were spectacular, and I got to see several Javelinas.

Length: 11.2 mi
Elevation gain: 2,309 ft
Route type: Out & back

Hiking, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Fee, No dogs

Carlsbad Caverns National Park Hiking Trail #8. Carlsbad Caverns Highway to Carlsbad Caverns National Park

8. Carlsbad Caverns Highway to Carlsbad Caverns National Park

 

This is also another easy trail that is moderately trafficked. It is 23.7 km long and features a beautiful cave. The trail is mainly used for scenic driving and what’s even more convenient is that it is accessible throughout the year. I also got to see a big lizard crossing the road, so carry your good cameras.

Length: 14.7 mi
Elevation gain: 1,017 ft
Route type: Out & back

Kid friendly, Scenic driving, Cave, Views, No shade, Fee, No dogs

Carlsbad Caverns National Park Hiking Trail #9 Walnut Canyon Trail

9 Walnut Canyon Trail

Another easy trail in Carlsbad Caverns National park is the Walnut Canyon Trail. The trail is 0.5km long, has great scenic views, and is available all year round. It is a great place to stretch your legs with your family and catch the fantastic views.

Length: 0.3 mi
Elevation gain: 26 ft
Route type: Out & back

Kid friendly, Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, Bird watching, Views, Rocky, Fee, No dogs

Carlsbad Caverns National Park Hiking Trail #10. Yucca Canyon to Guadalupe Ridge Trail

10. Yucca Canyon to Guadalupe Ridge Trail

The last trail on the list is the Yucca Canyon to Guadalupe Ridge Trail. It is 23.5 km long, and it also features beautiful wildflowers. You can choose to backpack on the trail like I did and set a camp when you are done with hiking. I can rate this trail as hard, so try something else if you are not a seasonal hiker.

However, if you feel adventurous, you can start early, and you will make it. The weather was unpredictable, and also, watch out for stubby plants. The views at the top are worth everything you will go through getting there.

Length: 14.6 mi
Elevation gain: 3,221 ft
Route type: Out & back

Backpacking, Hiking, Running, Views, Wildflowers, Over grown, Rocky, Off trail, No shade, Fee

Places and Things to Do and See in Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Like I said above, there are several things to see and do in Carlsbad Caverns National Park. The underground wonderland is impressive, but you will also fall in love with the above-ground activities. Below are some of the activities that I loved the most. You may even want to take one of the many Carlsbad Caverns National Park tours. Get the Carlsbad Caverns National Park tickets at any of the visitors centers.

Carlsbad Canyon National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

1. Caverns exploration

With this kind of exploration, I was given two options. Go by myself on a self-guided trail or join a group and go on a ranger-guided tour. Well, I chose both, I first went by myself, and it was a great experience. However, I could not go deeper by myself, and that is where I chose to go on the ranger-guided tour.

We got to learn more about the history of the place and had a lot of adventures. You also have the option of choosing the type of ranger-guided tour you want to go on as there are several.

2. Bat Flight Program

I also really liked this program mainly because it is only available at a specific time of the year. The bats are migratory and are just there a few months of the year. I learned that they arrive in late April and then leave all through October. We sat at the bat flight amphitheater and saw thousands of bats emerge from the cave entrance.

We were not charged for the activity as it was included in the entrance fees. You also don’t need to make a reservation as seats are given out on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you want to catch this show, make sure to go between August through September.

Dark Sky Program

Another program that I loved was the dark sky program. The Carlsbad Caverns National Park is located in a very remote area, which helped a lot view the sky at night. We were lucky enough to experience a meteor shower, but you have to check with the park’s website to know exactly when it will happen.

Hiking the Surface and Underground

We had the option of either going on a hike on the surface or do it underground. I like the underground hiking trails, but you can also hike on the nearby mountains called the Guadalupe Mountains. There are several trails that you can choose to hike on, and they all have great views. I have discussed more hiking trails in the next section.

Walnut Canyon Desert Drive

This is a drive that I also liked a lot. It was a one-way drive that was 9.5 miles long, and you drove through the mountains. There are also different trails where we stopped and hiked on. I loved the views and sceneries a lot. I will advise you to try it out.

Rattlesnake Springs

At first, I was taught that this is where we would go and see rattlesnakes, and I was a little skeptical because I’m not too fond of snakes. However, that was not the case at all, and it is a picnic area where you can sit down and rest. There are grills where you could grill your foods ad they also had restrooms.

For someone like me who loves watching birds, you will love this place. I got to see several new birds as I enjoyed nature and the natural spring.

The Carlsbad Caverns National Park has several trails where you can hike on and enjoy the views while getting in some exercise. This specific park has over 117 caves, and the longest measures 120 miles long. The caves are home to different species of animals that you will meet on the way while hiking.

There are also above-ground trails that are also great, especially if you don’t mind heights. Below are the top 10 trails that I got to hike and which I believe are the best in Carlsbad Caverns National Park. I am going to rate them as easy, moderate, and hard.

Conclusion

Visiting Carlsbad Caverns National Park was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life, and I would go back. It is an excellent place to bond with nature, and the views are to die for. Don’t forget to carry a good camera and the correct attire, especially shoes, if you plan to hike.


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