Located in the Guadalupe Mountains, Carlsbad Caverns is a combination of hundreds of underground chambers that encompasses 14-acres and is home to 116 of the 300 known caves in the area. The limestone formed these caves when sulfuric acid dissolved them.
Don't let the steepness of the trail discourage you from taking the “traditional explorer's route” 750 feet down a steep and winding path. The main section of the cave, the Big Room is not to be missed and if you're up for one of the more difficult guided tours you'll want to reserve tickets (877-444-6777). One of the attractions you won't want to miss is every evening the Mexican free-tailed bats take flight from the Carlsbad Cavern entrance. You can witness thousands of bats exiting the cavern for their nightly insect feast from the outdoor amphitheater from early spring to October.
Discovered in 1898 by a 16-year-old cowhand, Jim White explored many of the rooms with the help of his homemade wire ladder. It wasn't until the 1980s when an inscription reading “J White 1898” was discovered deep within Carlsbad Caverns that provided the proof of his presence inside the caves. White was responsible for most of the names like the Big Room, King's Palace, Queen's Chamber and countless others.
White was searching for stray cattle when he saw a plume of bats rising from the desert hills. After tying his horse up and find his way through the brush Jim described the moment by saying, “I found myself gazing into the biggest and blackest hole I had ever seen, out of which the bats seemed literally to boil.” A few days later he began his exploration after making a ladder out of rope, fence wire and brushwood. He felt as if he “…was wandering into the very core of the Guadalupe Mountains.” White later became a national park ranger and following his death a bronze plaque was placed in the lobby at the park visitor center.
JAMES L. WHITE
1882 – 1946
Beginning in 1901, Jim White made the first known extensive explorations of the Carlsbad Caverns. He was chiefly responsible for bringing the attention of the public, scientific groups and the federal government to the importance and significance of the caverns.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park is open year-round except December 25 and the caves are at a consistent temperature of 56 degrees Fahrenheit.