Why vacation in Carlsbad, New Mexico?

We took a much longer route than was necessary (see, RV trips do not always work out as planned), but we finally made it across Texas to New Mexico. Why vacation in Carlsbad, New Mexico? Read my story of why we loved Carlsbad and everything about it.

Carlsbad (Pride of the Pecos) has all the elements to provide a stellar vacation in southeastern New Mexico. The town is, of course, well known as the home of the spectacular Carlsbad Caverns National Park, but there is much more to see and experience here.

I have visited Carlsbad several times but never knew about or visited nearby Lincoln Forest, Sitting Bull Falls, or the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens.

Bonnie and Clyde’s Getaway RV Park

 Why vacation in Carlsbad, New Mexico?

Carlsbad has many RV parks to choose from, and we selected Bonnie and Clyde’s Getaway RV Park, not very far from town. My first experience with an all gravel RV park with no grass was a minor problem for our dogs.

This RV Park does have a nice grassy pond area with shelters and a picnic area. Unfortunately, a car ride is necessary to reach it. Aside from the lack of a dog run or nearby grassy area, this is a lovely, tidy, well-maintained RV park, and we enjoyed our all connections stay here, wi-fi included.

Carlsbad Lake Recreation Area

Another gem in Carlsbad is right in town. Lake Carlsbad Recreation area is a beautiful place for a picnic or quiet walk along the sidewalks that line both sides of the Pecos River. Fishing and boating are also available here, and a swimming area is open throughout the summer months.

Carniceria San Juan de Los Lagos

1200 N Pate St.
Carlsbad, NM 88220

 Why vacation in Carlsbad, New Mexico?

Before retiring, Steve spent a couple of years working here, so he is very familiar with the town. This authentic Mexican food restaurant is one of his favorites. I had the most attractive-looking and delicious nachos while Steve went straight for the street tacos. We both had fresh watermelon drinks.

 Why vacation in Carlsbad, New Mexico?

Great food, comfortable restaurant with a terrific atmosphere.

Carlsbad Caverns

 Why vacation in Carlsbad, New Mexico?

This, of course, is what most people think of when you mention Carlsbad, and the caverns are pretty spectacular. The caverns are almost 20 miles from town but certainly worth the drive out, and a tour here is a fantastic experience.

 Why vacation in Carlsbad, New Mexico?

We were lucky enough to see these desert bighorn sheep hanging out near the roadside as we approached the caverns.

A great childhood memory is walking through the caverns with my three-year-old sister sitting on my Dad’s shoulders singing “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” at the top of her lungs. She entertained all of us participating in the tour.

Carlsbad Caverns became a national park in 1930 but was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995 and covers 73 square miles on the surface. Beneath the surface, namesake Carlsbad Caverns is only one of many separate caves.

 Why vacation in Carlsbad, New Mexico?

The caverns have a natural but very steep entrance (Natural Entrance Trail) that requires about an hour’s walk. An elevator is available for the not so physically fit to take you on a shorter route (Big Room Trail).

 Why vacation in Carlsbad, New Mexico?

There are no guided tours at this time, and you must make reservations online before your arrival. Also, the last tour of the day is mid-afternoon, so you need to plan your trip to fit those requirements.

 Why vacation in Carlsbad, New Mexico?

It is a scenic eighteen-mile drive southwest of the city to reach the caverns. Continue driving a bit down the road, and you will find yourself at the Guadalupe Mountains National Park and its beautiful El Capitan mountain peak. This park has excellent trails and is a lovely hiking destination.

Bat Flight Program

 Why vacation in Carlsbad, New Mexico?

For me, the evening bat flight was the absolute highlight of our visit to Carlsbad. The bats are migratory, so the program is only available between late May to October.

The program begins just before sunset with a park ranger’s informative talk. Then, in our case, at least, the ranger suddenly stopped speaking and silently walked away as the bats began swirling above our heads, beginning their incredible show.

Zero electronic devices are permitted, no cell phones, computers, tablets, MP3 players, nothing electronic. It’s pretty tricky to film flying bats anyway! Research shows that sounds and lights disturb the bats and may cause behavioral changes.

Unfortunately, I have no pictures, but the bat flight is something you need to see for yourself. No reservations are required, and the program is entirely free.

The most memorable nugget of information I learned at the Bat Flight program is that bats take NINETY SECONDS to give birth! That little piece of information just stuck with me.

Lincoln Forest and Sitting Bull Falls

 Why vacation in Carlsbad, New Mexico?

Sitting Bull Falls is in a canyon just over 42 miles west of Carlsbad in the Lincoln National Forest. Lincoln National Forest is reasonably large, covering over a million acres, and this forest has elevations from 4,000 feet to 11,500 feet.

 Why vacation in Carlsbad, New Mexico?
Sitting Bull Falls

Sitting Bull Falls is actually several waterfalls fed from springs above the canyon. The water drops 150 feet all the way to the bottom of the canyon.

The water flow was not very heavy; however, a nice pool existed. Families were swimming and wading in the water, hiking, and enjoying picnics at the picnic shelters scattered near the Falls.

 Why vacation in Carlsbad, New Mexico?

Where the name, Sitting Bull Falls originated is not known but undoubtedly is connected to Native Americans in that area.

Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

 Why vacation in Carlsbad, New Mexico?

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is a fun and unusual park. It is a museum, outdoor zoo, and botanical garden in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert. The visitor’s center contains fascinating exhibits of animal and plant life, Native American history, and various collections from the area.

 Why vacation in Carlsbad, New Mexico?

Then you walk outdoors into the living desert and the animals that live there. Some of the animals you will find here are bears, wolves, prairie dogs, tortoises, pronghorn, elk, and mule deer, as well as a walk-in aviary. All can be seen in their desert habitats as you walk along the path through the park.

As you walk along, you can also view the vast selection of plants arranged in the different climate zones found in the Chihuahuan Desert. Bonus: you have a fantastic view of the Pecos River Valley from this park.

 Why vacation in Carlsbad, New Mexico?

We continue to have a great experience as we get even farther away from home, all the way to New Mexico. Where will we end up next week?

Why vacation in Carlsbad, New Mexico?

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