Carlsbad Caverns are a Natural National treasure of the United States. I have never experienced a more impressive cave venture. Carlsbad Caverns is also one of our 59 National Parks. We have now visited 20 National Parks as a family and this one ranks in my top 3 favorites.
There are 10 different tours you can take at Carlsbad Caverns. Two are self-guided tours that are included in the price of your entrance to the park. All other tours are an additional cost. Children must be at least age 4 to go on any of the guided tours. Some of the tours have a higher age requirement of 12, because of the strenuous nature of the tour. Here is information from the government website on all of the tours available at Carlsbad Caverns: Carlsbad Caverns Tours
We had three children under the age of 4 in our group, so we took the two self guided tours, which took us about 3 hours total and were incredible!
The self guided tours allow you to take the steep and majestic hike into the cavern through the Natural Entrance and then you can walk through over 1 mile of the cave in the Big Room. Here is some information from the NPS (National Parks Service) website on the self guided tours:
I was concerned that the Natural Entrance would be too dangerous for our kids to hike. After going to the Grand Canyon, this hike can be considered much more safe and less stressful. There are some drops, but not the extreme height like other canyons we have toured. As long as you hold your child’s hand on the hike down the Natural Entrance they should be plenty safe. Here are our photos while hiking the 1.25 miles of the Natural Entrance:
Once you are at the bottom of the Natural Entrance you can continue into the Big Room. This is also where the elevators are located, which you will loop back to after exploring the Big Room (if you are taking the self-guided tour).
The Big Room was incredible! I don’t think photos or explanation do enough justice to this masterpiece that God has created below the surface. We were 700 feet below the ground and I can’t get over what has been discovered, preserved, and developed for tours in these caves.
Below are photos from our time in the Big Room. You may notice we added another child into our family for the tour. We brought along our friend’s daughter Ella. Her parents stayed behind with her little sister who decided spelunking wasn’t her thing. Ella and Brielle were hiking buddies and did great together! They had a wonderful time seeing the Caverns, as did the twins, Justin, and I.
Here is some FAQ’s from the NPS website about Carlsbad Caverns: https://www.nps.gov/cave/index.htm
Be sure to pick up a Junior Ranger booklet at the information desk before you start your cave exploration. The program is free at this Park. If your child completes the designated number of activities in the book they can turn it back into a Ranger (at the Visitor’s Center) and get sworn in on the spot as a Junior Ranger. They are then given (free) a cute and official Junior Ranger badge.
Ranger Evan swore in Brielle at Carlsbad. He was so nice and engaged Brielle in conversation about her cave experience at Carlsbad.