If you’re looking to explore Carlsbad Caverns National Park—either above or below ground—the best time to do so is in October, when temperatures are milder and the crowds start to thin out. That said, the best time for you to visit Carlsbad Caverns ultimately depends on your itinerary.
Best known as the place to view New Mexico’s yearly bat migrations, Carlsbad Caverns National Park encompasses 73 square miles of the Chihuahuan Desert—while also featuring over a hundred caves for which the park is named.
If you’re having a hard time deciding when to plan your visit to this staple of
New Mexico tourism, don’t fret—a licensed
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Jerry, is here to help. We’ll give you the rundown on what activities are best experienced during what month and help you figure out the best time to visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
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The best times of year to visit Carlsbad Caverns
Given that the park doesn’t usually experience extreme high or low temperatures and that humidity is low throughout the year, exploring
Carlsbad Caverns National Park is something that can be during any month—it really just depends on what you’re wanting to do while at the park.
Peak Season: May to October
The good: Bats have returned!
The bad: More crowds, high temperatures
The weather: Daytime averages range between 70℉ and 90℉; rainfall more likely
Despite encompassing the hottest, wettest part of the year, May through October is when Carlsbad Caverns sees peak visitation—but that doesn’t automatically mean it’s the best time of year for you to visit.
If you’re planning on visiting during the late spring and summer months, you may want to consider planning an itinerary consisting mainly of the morning, evening, and night-time activities—such as
bat-observation, and the like—to beat the worst of New Mexico’s heat.
Off-season: January to February
The good: Lower costs, fewer crowds
The bad: Low nighttime temperatures, potential road closures
The weather: Daytime temperatures fluctuate between 50℉ and 65℉; low chances of precipitation
While you can certainly still visit throughout the winter months, January through February is considered to be the off-season at Carlsbad Caverns National Park, with a decided decrease in park visitors. As a result, you’ll find lower lodging prices and won’t have to contend with as many crowds—and mild subterranean temperatures mean cave exploration is still a viable activity.
If you’re looking to save money, aren’t planning on doing any stargazing, and don’t mind missing the yearly bat migrations, January or February may be the best time for your visit to Carlsbad Caverns.
Shoulder Season: March through April & November through December
The good: Fewer crowds, less expensive, milder temperatures
The bad: Bats have migrated,
The weather: Daytime averages range between 55℉ and 70℉; low chances of precipitation
As spring break rolls around in March, visitation to the park starts to pick back up—whereas the start of winter break in December marks the last influx of steady visitors before the off-season sets in.
Visiting during these times can be ideal if you wish to spend a good deal of time outside or plan on doing any stargazing, as milder temperatures and clear skies make for an ideal park experience.
The cheapest time to travel to Carlsbad Caverns
Due to it being considered the off-season, January through February is generally going to be the cheapest time to visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park, especially if you plan on renting a hotel or motel room for a couple of nights.
This affordability, however, comes with several trade-offs: cold, potentially freezing temperatures, possible snowfall, and worst of all—no bats. But if none of these things bother you, visiting during the winter may be your best option, and you’ll still be able to tour the caves or take in the scenic views by car.
Find the best month for your visit to Carlsbad Caverns
Mild cave temperatures mean touring the park’s caverns is viable even in winter—and you won’t have to contend with crowds.
Carlsbad Caverns’ bat population usually migrates in mid-to-late April, during which time their numbers can swell to over a million.
While the park’s bat population can be observed throughout the summer, the Dawn of the Bats event on July 15th is a special early-morning program.
Milder temperatures and fewer crowds make spring one of the best times to go hiking at Carlsbad Caverns.
Fewer crowds, milder temperatures, and low rainfall makes early autumn a great time to spend a few days in the backcountry.
While any time between October and March is a good time for stargazing, mild nighttime temperatures, and exceptionally clear skies make October the best month to stargaze at Carlsbad Caverns.
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How to prepare to visit Carlsbad Caverns
Before you hit the road, make sure you and your vehicle are adequately prepared for a trip to Carlsbad Caverns National Park by following these tips:
If you plan on visiting Carlsbad Caverns more than once or are going to visit multiple national parks on the same trip, consider purchasing an
America the Beautiful pass
Check that your vehicle meets all of the park’s clearance requirements
Make sure that your vehicle’s
maintenanceis up-to-date and that everything is functioning properly
Update your car insurance policy
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