Encompassing one of the great cave systems in North America, Carlsbad Caverns National Park has wonders aplenty throughout its Chihuahuan Desert landscape.
Today that landscape in southeastern New Mexico is the craggy escarpment of the Guadalupe Mountains rising above the desert shrublands. It’s also the limestone skeleton of the Permian-age Capitan Reef, which was a thriving marine ecosystem 265 million years ago.
Besides being some of the largest and longest in the world, Carlsbad Caverns National Park’s 120-plus caves are unusual in that they weren’t formed, like so many caves, by rainwater and surface water percolating downward. Instead, groundwater and sulfuric acid dissolved these limestone chambers from the bygone reef.
Although camping isn't allowed inside the park, outdoor recreationists and nature enthusiasts will find plenty of activities at this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here are 5 of them.