Leave No Trace.
Wilderness is defined in the 1964 Wilderness Act as...an area where
earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself
is a visitor who does not remain. Please help to protect the Carlsbad
Caverns Wilderness by practicing these Leave No Trace principles:
- Stay on established trails–short-cutting and
cliff-climbing is dangerous and causes erosion.
- Human waste should be deposited (not buried) at
least 300 feet from any cave, trail, or water source.
- Pack out all trash-your own and any you find,
including toilet paper.
Camp at least 300 feet away from any cave entrance, road, trail, or
water source. Be sure you are out of sight and sound of these areas, as
Campfires are not permitted within the park boundaries. Use a
containerized fuel stove instead.
- There are no vehicle or RV camping areas in the
park. Overnight parking and/or camping is not permitted in any parking
lot or other developed area.
- Do not clear soil or vegetation, or dig
trenches around tents.
- Pets are not permitted on park trails or in the
- For USGS maps:
http://mapping.usgs.gov or 1-800-USA-MAPS
Prior to the evening bat flight, a talk is given at the cavern
entrance by a park ranger. The starting time of the talk varies with
sunset—it is best to call the park at 505.785.3012 or check at the visitor
center for the exact time. Programs may be canceled in the event of
inclement weather. The bat flight talks are scheduled from Memorial Day
weekend through the end of September. There is no charge for the bat
flight program. In late October or early November, the bats migrate to
Mexico for the winter; they return in April or May, depending on the
Best Flights. The best bat flights
normally occur in August and September. At this time baby bats, born in
early summer, join the flight along with migrating bats from colonies
Return Flights. The daily pre-dawn
return of the bats is different from the evening exit flights but are just
as impressive. Early risers can see the bats as they re-enter Carlsbad
Cavern with spectacular dives from heights of hundreds of feet. Individual
bats diving in from every direction may reach speeds of 40 km/h (25 mph)
For Your Comfort and Safety.
Flash cameras are not permitted at the Bat Flight Program. Video cameras
are acceptable. Flash photography and recharging flash units disturb
the bats exiting and re-entering an important maternity roost.
Spaces to accommodate people using wheelchairs are
located at the entrance to the amphitheater. Restrooms are available and
Pets are not allowed in the amphitheater area.
Water is the lifeblood of the Southwest,
especially in the arid desert lands surrounding Carlsbad Caverns.
Rattlesnake Springs, a detached unit of Carlsbad Caverns National Park,
was acquired by the National Park Service in 1934 for the primary purpose
of ensuring a reliable domestic water supply for cavern area development.
A water supply pipeline from the spring to the cavern area, which is still
in use, was completed in 1935. The water supply for the cavern is from a
well that taps the same aquifer as the springs. The springs also provide
water for irrigating NPS lands and for water uses on private lands such as
the adjacent Washington Ranch.
Over the years the 1,000-meter stream and wetland
system at Rattlesnake Springs has been sustained by the remaining
undiverted spring flow. Originally a marsh, this area has been altered by
human development. Today this green oasis provides habitat for a wide
variety of species. The oasis is bounded by the gently rolling Chihuahuan
Desert plains, dotted with creosote bush, yucca, mesquite, and snakewood.
These plains are framed by the magnificent backdrop of the Guadalupe
escarpment. When considered against the backdrop of declining riparian
habitat in the desert southwest, this stream/wetland complex constitutes
an extraordinary natural resource of state and regional significance.
The area, however, is much more than just a water source for the park or a
natural area of note. The spring was used by prehistoric peoples and
historic Indian groups, soldiers, travelers, and settlers. When Henry
Harrison homesteaded the area around the spring in the 1880s, he developed
the spring, built an irrigation system for his fields, constructed an
adobe home, and planted trees and orchards. Following acquisition by the
National Park Service, the area was further developed by the Civilian
Conservation Corps during 1938 to 1942. They were responsible for many
area improvements including the rock wall of the spring pond, the ranger
residence, and the planting of cottonwood trees. Rattlesnake Springs was
also used by the military during World War II. During more recent times,
the Park Service has further developed the spring area. For its
significant role in our nation's history, this area was placed on the
National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
Because of this special combination of significant
natural and cultural features, the Rattlesnake Springs unit has recently
been reexamined and inventoried as a potential cultural landscape. A
cultural landscape may be described as an expression of human adaptation
to and use of the natural resources of an area. All historic landscapes
evolved from and depend on natural resources—interconnected systems of
land, air and water, and native vegetation and wildlife. Human land use
alters many of these systems, either deliberately or accidentally.
While few artifacts remain from the early
settlement period, the area provides critical habitat for an extraordinary
number and variety of birds, reptiles, mammals, and butterflies. The rural
character is still visible today as a mosaic containing open irrigated
fields, cottonwoods along the irrigation ditches and the watercourse,
ordered fruit trees that line the access road, and the picnic area. The
spatial arrangement and organization of the spring area, the continuing
land use, and the riparian system are some of the prominent features of
this landscape that are reminders of our cultural and natural heritage.
Rattlesnake Springs has a picnic area for visitors
with tables and cooking grills in a grassy area under large cottonwood
trees. Drinking water and wheelchair accessible toilets are also
available. Rattlesnake Springs is well-known to birders, being one of the
better spots in New Mexico for attracting birds that are not common to the
general area. Camping is not permitted at Rattlesnake Springs.