NPS Photo / Peter Jones

New Mexico’s stunning underground caves in the Guadalupe Mountains.

Travel + Leisure
September 04, 2012

The otherworldly subterranean landscape of Carlsbad Caverns National Park is—justifiably—New Mexico’s most famous attraction. More than 300,000 visitors flock to its 117 known caves (the most well known is Carlsbad Cavern), which were formed long ago when sulfuric acid dissolved into the limestone. To go beyond the self-guided excursions, book a more in-depth guided tour—well in advance, if possible.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

The otherworldly subterranean landscape of Carlsbad Caverns National Park is—justifiably—New Mexico’s most famous attraction. Take the self-guided audio tours of the Natural Entrance and Big Room (tickets and headphones are available at the park visitor center). Then sign up for a 1.5-hour ranger-led tour through the four Kings Palace chambers, which lie some 830 feet beneath the park’s surface and contain hundreds of eerie geological formations.

Red Chimney Pit Bar-B-Q

If you’re visiting Carlsbad Caverns National Park, avoid the iffy eateries in nearby White’s City and continue to the town of Carlsbad, where this joint serves cheap and tasty brisket, pork ribs, and fried catfish.

Holiday Inn Express, Carlsbad

The best of the several chain properties in the region.

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