Carlsbad, New Mexico, is known as “The Pearl of the Pecos.” Surrounded by the Chihuahuan desert, this picturesque city is outdoor heaven. With many public spaces, such as the Lake Carlsbad Beach park for swimming and water skiing, beautiful walking paths along the river, and numerous excellent picnic spots. Those interested in the overground fauna can visit the Living Desert Zoot San Diego, which has mountain lions and bison.
Things to Do in Carlsbad NM, carlsbad was founded as a frontier city in the nineteenth century, is grid-based, and has a population of 55 thousand people. Visitors to downtown can enjoy a night out by visiting one of the many restaurants, seeing a show, or strolling along the river at United States.
Carlsbad has so much to offer above ground that it’s easy to forget that the main reason so many people visit this city each year is for its world-famous sights below ground! It’s no surprise, given that Carlsbad is the gateway to the Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
20 List of Things to Do in Carlsbad NM Today
1. National Park of Carlsbad Caverns
National Park of Carlsbad Caverns, for casual adventurers, the caverns are a must-see because they are a subterranean art gallery filled with sculptures crafted by nature over 4 million years. The local Mescalero Apache Indians had known about the caverns for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
A local cowboy who thought he saw black smoke rising in the desert discovered caverns in 1901. As he went to investigate, he discovered that the smoke was actually a black cloud of bats! Since then, the Carlsbad caverns have been a tourist attraction theme park, with over 440.000 visitors in 2019 alone.
Fortunately, the park is not your typical crowded tourist destination, as there are over 100 caves to explore, totaling over 3 miles of exciting underground adventure! Caves may appear frightening to some, but the cavern system is vast and easily accessible, with varying degrees of difficulty. For some, the Natural entrance trail sounds like the ideal way to begin the journey because of its steep descent of approximately 1.25 miles (2 kilometers). The trail is equivalent to a 75-story building and takes about an hour to complete white sands.
The caves are popular not only with tourists, but also with the estimated one million bats who sleep in the cool caves during the day. It is said to be an unforgettable sight to see the bats leave the cavern at sundown and disappear into the black night during the evening. It’s simple to see that show of wonder and get tickets to the Bat-flight program; there’s even an amphitheater with seating for up to 200 people!
Except for the Natural entrance trail, the caves are family-friendly and fairly accessible in general, but if you are looking for a more adventurous guided tour in a cave, a good indicator is the word “lower,” book tickets for the Lower cave tour, which balances fun and difficulty well. Visitors must use ropes and ladders to explore there. It’s thrilling to have to carefully navigate the deep corridors, but there’s no need to worry because all visitors are accompanied by park rangers who ensure you don’t miss anything grand canyon.
There are numerous tours available that cater to the needs of each visitor; if in doubt, use the names of the caves as a guide. That usually aids in determining difficulty and claustrophobic areas, such as the King’s palace cave. This underground chamber is so impressive that it’s possible that Grieg’s famous orchestral piece “In the Hall of the Mountain King” was inspired by this time and nature marvel lincoln national forest.
Other names are more eerie, such as the self-explanatory Bottomless Pit.
If you dare to venture to the pit’s edge, park rangers will reward you by telling you about the history of this desolate place. Without giving anything away, the pit isn’t exactly bottomless. It’s also not a good place to drop your smartphone because it’s 140 feet deep North America!
Many people remember the Giant Dome. A subterranean showroom of geological formations and ancient pillars that support the dome’s 62-foot height (18m). Allow yourself plenty of time for this one! Don’t forget to stop by the visitor center, which is located at the caverns’ natural entrance cave and where you can book tours white sands and learn more about Carlsbad Caverns. It’s a good idea to start your exploration early in the day because guided tours sell out quickly. There are numerous options. Cave in Slaughter Canyon? What is the Lion’s tail? Perhaps not Spider Cave! But don’t miss out on the “Left-hand channel tour” or the “Hall of the White Giant.”
2. Sitting Bull Falls
The Sitting Bulls Falls are about an hour’s drive south of Carlsbad. A glistening oasis in the desert! A paved walkway leads to the base of the 150-foot waterfall that cascades down the canyon walls. It’s probably difficult to remember, but in a hot desert, other rules apply! Everyone is welcome to go swimming to cool off! On a hot day, the hike is relatively easy and accessible to people of all skill levels at las cruces.
Nature has a lot to offer along the way, from the gradually revealing vista as you ascend to the waterfall. The trail is also ideal for birdwatching. Most visitors hike to the top of the falls to take in the spectacular view and then cool off in the numerous pools at the top. Some even go swimming because there is a good chance of finding shade up there.
Nobody knows why it was named Sitting Bull Falls, and it has nothing to do with the famous Indian. The Apache name for it, however, is “gostahanagunti” or “hidden gulch.” It’s easy to speculate about its name, but many believe that the Apaches meant “hidden” to refer to this desert gem at the top, a well-deserved respite for those who ventured above the falls.
3. State Park Living Desert Zoo & Gardens
The Living Desert Zoo is an excellent way for visitors who are unfamiliar with the fauna and flora of the arid Chihuahuan region to become acquainted with them. Visitors can follow a trail that highlights desert fauna such as cacti, Yucca, and desert flowers, which is fascinating up close. There are antelopes, mountain lions, and bison grazing in their natural desert habitat. However, the smaller predators of the desert-like snakes and lizards on display are safely caged.
Other animals not native to this region of the world are on display at the Zoo, including giraffes, camels, and many others. There are nature hiking tours as well as a safari to choose from! There is a children’s discovery center, a wildlife hospital, and a conservation center. A park is a great place for a family day out because it overlooks the Pecos River Valley and is conveniently located.
4. Carlsbad Museum of Art and History
Carlsbad Museum of Art and History, the museum and art center is conveniently located in central Carlsbad and is open daily with free admission! The museum has permanent exhibits that tell visitors about Carlsbad’s local and regional history.
Guests can immerse themselves in the creative side of this desert world by viewing native American art and artifacts, as well as modern and contemporary Southwestern art, at the art center. The “Taos ten” paintings, which originated from the Taos art colony in New Mexico, are one of the more well-known works of art on display.
5. Lake Carlsbad Beach Park
When many people’s thirst for cave exploration has been “quenched,” the Lake Carlsbad beach park is the next logical step. No matter if you want to go for a relaxing swim or a pleasant walk with a picnic in mind. Walking paths, beaches, watersports, paddle boats, and even fishing spots are available at this beach park on the banks of the Pecos River.
The park and recreation area spans over 120 acres of land and includes numerous shaded areas with picnic tables and grills. Walking the well-kept sidewalks that follow the river is a wonderful experience for many people. The park is well-known for its swimming opportunities, but it is also popular with locals and tourists alike. It is possible to feed them at designated locations such as the nearby Duckpond.
6. Brantley Lake State Park is number 6
The Brantley dam, which was built across the Pecos River in the 1980s, inspired the name of this state park. This man-made reservoir has a surface area of more than 4.000 acres (16 km2) and is ideal for trips around the area. The lake is a popular fishing spot because it is stocked with bass, catfish, carp, and a variety of other species. Brantley Lake State Park has 51 developed campsites with picnic tables, outdoor showers, playgrounds, and a visitor center.
If you want to experience the desert from above, this is a good place to start because you won’t have to travel far to find yourself surrounded by cacti. During the day, there is plenty to see and do in the desert. The nighttime sky never ceases to amaze visitors as the desert cools down. The state park is well-kept and has some excellent staff on hand to offer advice.
7. The Artist Gallery
Don’t forget to stop by the Artist Gallery to see some local art. The gallery is bright and spacious, and there is always something going on. There are exhibits to see as well as locally made jewelry. So, when planning a trip to Carlsbad, remember that the bright galleries above ground can be just as memorable as the dark caverns!
8. Pecos River Antique Mall
The antique mall may seem like a secret cave full of treasure to some and a complete waste of time to others, but for those who enjoy exploring flea markets, the Pecos River Antique Mall may surprise you. The market is larger than it appears from the outside, and a keen eye may spot something as eye-catching as an underground stalagmite or the Big room!
9. Day Tours from Carlsbad Cruises
The Pecos River, which runs through Carlsbad, is a very well-kept and clean river that is home to some very unique fish species. Many visitors to the city say that taking a river tour is relaxing but full of surprises. Seeing a city from the water is always memorable because it provides the traveler with a unique perspective.
If you want to go on an evening trip, make sure to book ahead of time. It’s very popular to watch the sunset on a relaxing evening cruise. It’s easy to see why: the desert sunset is breathtaking, especially with a breeze from the river. It is strongly advised!
10. Trinity Hotel Restaurant
The famous Trinity hotel restaurant is located in downtown Carlsbad and is housed in a building that was built in 1892 as a bank. Though the building dates back centuries, the Trinity Hotel was founded in 2007 and quickly became a fixture in the city.
It is well-known for its menu, which combines Italian and American cuisine, as well as an impressive wine list that includes their wine products. The Trinity hotel has been faithfully restored to reflect the history of the city and to resemble high life from a century ago. Gleaming chandeliers, stunning decor with paintings and artworks adorning the walls.
11. Carlsbad Community Theatre
For decades, the cleverly named Carlsbad community theatre has been a hub of activity for local thespians. The theatre hosts regular performances as well as matinées. A great pit stop for catching a show.
12. Yellowbrix Restaurant
The Yellowbrix Restaurant is the place to go for a Southwestern feast and proper steaks. From the outside, it appears that you are entering a fairy tale ranch that specializes in culinary experiences. Yellowbrix also offers healthy options and Cuban cuisine.
13. Eddy’s Residence
This house belonged to what is thought to be Carlsbad’s first resident, none other than Charles B. Eddy. The house is an original frontier dwelling that was moved from its original location stone by stone. A fantastic little historical stop that speaks for itself.
14. Pecos River Flume
The Pecos River Flume is not an easy sell in an exciting area like Carlsbad. But what makes this structure unique is that you can see from there that the Pecos River is the only one in America that crosses itself! So, check that one off the list.
15. Balzano Vineyards
Many people associate New Mexico with deserts, lizards, or a certain chemistry teacher. Consider again! Visitors are invited to a fantastic wine experience at the Balzano vineyard.
Come for a wine tasting and be surprised by the local grapes in this fascinating arid world.
16. Blue House Bakery and Cafe
Blue House Bakery and Cafe, this is Carlsbad’s number one breakfast spot, with a wide selection of freshly baked croissants or something classic, such as french toast and other classics from the world of American breakfast. Begin the day with some pastries and a strong cup of coffee so that your senses are still tingling when you descend into the caverns’ lower caves.
Kaleidoscoops is well-known for its classic American cuisine and old-fashioned ice cream. Choose the classic patty melt and then marvel at the variety of flavorings available. Many visitors to Carlsbad stop by Kaleidoscoops, and it’s no surprise that the locals wish it didn’t exist!
18. Junior’s Burritos & Mexican Restaurant
Junior’s Burritos is a great, affordable family restaurant in Carlsbad for proper Huevos Rancheros for breakfast or Burritos for late lunch. This authentic Mexican restaurant serves simple, delicious food in a welcoming environment.
19. Lake Carlsbad Golf Course
The Pecos River is full of surprises, such as the Lake Carlsbad Golf Course, which runs alongside the pearly river. An 18-hole course with a par of 72 is located in its eastern foothills. This semi-grassland course flanked by the desert is a worthy challenge for any aspiring golfer.
20. National Park of the Guadalupe Mountains
If the Carlsbad caverns did not pique your interest in cave exploration, the Guadalupe Mountains National Park is only about an hour’s drive away. This park differs from Brantley Lake State Park in that it is more rugged and mountainous. Many of its peaks, such as the famous El Capitan and the Guadalupe peak, the highest point in Texas at 8,749 feet, are well known (2,667 m).
FAQs about Things to Do in Carlsbad NM
What is Carlsbad, New Mexico famous for?
Carlsbad, New Mexico, also known as the “Pride of the Pecos,” is best known for Carlsbad Caverns National Park. However, the city has an interesting history as well as a diverse range of art and cultural attractions. With a temperate climate and 350 days of sunshine per year, any time of year is ideal for exploring.
How much time should you spend at Carlsbad Caverns?
The hike takes about an hour. Visitors with heart or respiratory problems should avoid this trail. The Big Room Trail can be reached via the elevator or the Natural Entrance Trail’s bottom. Allow one to two hours for this one-and-a-quarter mile (2 km) walk.
Is Carlsbad, New Mexico, a nice place?
Carlsbad Ratings. Carlsbad is fantastic! It’s the ideal size between a small and a large town. There is plenty to do and see while visiting or living here. It’s also relatively close to other towns, so drives aren’t too far if you need to get somewhere that isn’t in Carlsbad.
What is the reason for the closure of Carlsbad Caverns?
According to the US National Park Service, a temporary COVID-19 coronavirus closure at Carlsbad Caverns National Park has been lifted (NPS). According to the NPS website, the closure was lifted on Tuesday after being in place since March. However, the park’s capacity and operating hours are limited.