Camping at Carlsbad Caverns National Park is permitted only in the backcountry. All backcountry users are required to obtain a free backcountry use permit at the visitor center on the day of arrival (no advanced reservations issued).
Backcountry Camping Permit Terms and Conditions:
- Backcountry camping is only allowed west of Rattlesnake Canyon trailhead off the Desert Scenic Loop Road and south of the Guadalupe Ridge Trail to the park boundary for approximately two miles, after which camping is allowed both north and south of the trail.
- Campsites must be located at least 100 feet (30.5 m) off established trails, 300 feet (91 m) from any water source or cave entrance and 0.5 mile (or 2,600 feet or 0.8 kilometers) from any road or parking lot.
- Backcountry camping groups are limited to 10 people. Larger groups must hike and camp at least one-quarter mile apart (in separate areas).
- The permit holder must be 18 years of age or older.
- The maximum stay is seven consecutive nights.
- Vehicle or RV camping is prohibited. Camping is not allowed in any other area, including along any roads, in any parking lot or trailhead.
- No open fires in the park, small cooking stoves are permitted.
- Pets are not permitted in the back country (hiking or camping).
A few other things to keep in mind:
- Do not disturb or collect any plants, animals, minerals, or cultural artifacts.
- Entering backcountry caves without written permission of the superintendent is prohibited.
- Saddle and stock use is permitted, in designated areas, under special rules and regulations. Advance arrangements are required.
- Please report all accidents, fires, injuries, lost persons, or other emergencies to a park ranger.
- Mountain bikes and motorized vehicles are prohibited on all park trails.
- Drones are prohibited.
- Lock your vehicle and take valuable items with you.
Research activities in national parks are regulated through a Research and Permit Reporting System streamlining the process.
Backcountry Cave Permits
Entering backcountry or recreational caves inside the park requires a permit.
Special Use Permits
Gatherings and commercial activities in national parks often require a special use permit. The purpose of these permits is to ensure the protection of the park's natural and cultural resources. Please allow 10 business days for the park to process your permit application. You will be contacted by park staff once your application is in-process.
By policy, most applications for special events are accepted up to one year in advance.
Examples of activities that require a permit:
- Commercial filming and/or photography anywhere in the park
- Races, relays, walks
- Any ground disturbing activities
- First Amendment events
- Celebratory gatherings
- Scientific research, collecting specimens
- Artistic displays (dancing, singing, playing instruments, painting, pottery)
Please note, the park can deny an application for a special event if that event may:
- Cause injury or damage to park resources
- Be contrary to the purposes for which the park was established
- Unreasonably interfere with park programs or activities
- Create an unsafe or unhealthful environment for visitors or employees
- Result in significant conflict with other existing users.
Filming and Photography Permits
As the first step, you must fill out the appropriate application and submit it to the park. Once you are contacted by park staff regarding your application, you will be asked to provide payment via credit card. We will contact you for payment when your application is approved. Please do not attempt to contact the park to provide payment if you have not been contacted by park staff regarding your permit. Please allow 10 business days for the park to process your permit application.
Contact for Special Use, Filming, and Photography Permits Only:
Special Use Permits Office
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
3225 National Parks Highway
Carlsbad, NM 88220