Where to stay near Carlsbad Caverns, NM

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New Mexico is home to the Grand Canyon with a roof. Though below the surface and under the radar, Carlsbad Caverns is so majestic that it plays in the biggest league of them all. But where to stay near Carlsbad Caverns for the best experience?

You have two main options for where to stay when visiting Carlsbad Caverns: Whites City and Carlsbad. Whites City is closer to the cave entrance, while Carlsbad offers a much bigger selection of hotels and amenities.

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Whites City

Set in the expanding New Mexico desert, Whites City is a humble option for where to stay near Carlsbad Caverns National Park. This town is so small that it easily can be mistaken as only a roadhouse far away from civilization.

But don’t rule this town out just yet. Whites City has an ace in its sleeve.

Conveniently so, it’s only 7 miles (11 km) and under 15 minutes from Whites City to the heart of Carlsbad Caverns National Park. There, the park’s visitor center and number one attraction — North America’s biggest cave chamber, the Big Room — await.

This makes Whites City the best place to stay near Carlsbad Caverns for park access.

Just have in mind that not much is going on in Whites City. Here, the surrounding nature, dominated by the cacti-dotted Chihuahuan Desert, comes first and second.

However, Whites City’s gas station, grocery store and café fill important functions in a rural slice of New Mexico.

For a quirky experience, keep an eye out for the surprisingly fun gift shop in Whites City. Connected to the town’s grocery store, this gem offers a diversity of gifts, perfect for the memory shelf back home.

How many hotels there are in Whites City? Just one, the Spartan but uniquely positioned Whites City Cavern Inn.

Pick Whites City for: Best access.


It’s easy to see why Carlsbad is the most popular option for where to stay when visiting Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Northeast of the park, Carlsbad is a convenient city with all the comforts you might crave for.

Firstly, the location is attractive. From the heart of Carlsbad, it’s just 27 miles (44 km) and 30 minutes to the Carlsbad Caverns adventure.

Secondly, Carlsbad provides all those appreciated amenities that it’s few and far between in this New Mexico region.

Enjoy a wide selection of lodging, ranging from relaxed motels to luxury hotels. Add to that a variety of restaurants and stores for groceries and other essentials.

Pick Carlsbad for: Prime comfort.

Best hotels in Carlsbad

Hyatt House

Tour North America’s biggest cave chamber during daytime; then head to Hyatt House to enjoy modern-day comfort. This hotel near Carlsbad Caverns offers contemporary rooms and cozy outdoor areas, including a refreshing swimming pool for those sizzling New Mexico times.

The dark entrance to Carlsbad Caverns under blue sky
Carlsbad Cavern’s Natural Entrance.

Tips for staying at Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns is one of the most eye-popping natural attractions in the USA. However, with these tips you can make your stay even better.

  • Reserve tickets – Reservations are required for Carlsbad Caverns. Therefore, make sure to request Carlsbad Caverns tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.
  • Pack for caving – While New Mexico in general is the definition of a sweltering destination, caves play by their own rules. As the Big Room in Carlsbad Caverns keeps an average temperature of 56°F (13ºC), it’s wise to bring several layers of clothes.
  • Add another park – Are you a national park lover? Guadalupe Mountains, less than an hour away, and White Sands, 3.5 hours away, are popular parks to combine with Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Another appealing option is Big Bend, located 5.5 hours away.

Final words about where to stay near Carlsbad Caverns

Whites City boasts a unique far-away-from-it-all charm and is the closest option for where to stay near Carlsbad Caverns. However, pay attention to that the lodging options and amenities are limited here.

In contrast, Carlsbad offers the advantages of a bigger city, including a wide range accommodations. This regional hub lets you discover Carlsbad Caverns without compromising regarding comfort.

Where to stay near Carlsbad Caverns FAQ

Can you stay overnight in Carlsbad Caverns?

There’s no lodging, or campgrounds, inside Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Instead, Whites City, 7 miles (11 km) from the action, makes up the closest base for Carlsbad Caverns accommodations.

Where do people stay when visiting Carlsbad Caverns?

Most Carlsbad Caverns visitors stay in the well-serviced gateway town of Carlsbad. In Carlsbad, you find a wide range of not only hotels but also all those other amenities you crave for, including stores and eateries.

What is the closest city to Carlsbad Caverns National Park?

Whites City is the town closest to Carlsbad Caverns National Park. From Whites City, it’s just 7 miles (11 km) and less than 15 minutes to the heart of Carlsbad Caverns, where you find the park’s visitor center and North America’s biggest cave chamber, the jaw-dropping Big Room.

Which are the best places to stay near Carlsbad Caverns?

If location is the top priority, bed down at the convenient Whites City Cavern Inn, set only a 15-minute drive from the cave. For the best of civilization, opt for Hyatt House in Carlsbad, putting you within 30 minutes of the park adventure.

How many days do you need at Carlsbad Caverns?

You can soak up the best of Carlsbad Caverns in one day. The most popular experience, which involves entering the cave via the Natural Entrance and hiking through the Big Room, requires between 2 and 4 hours of your time depending on how often you want to stop.

Is Carlsbad Caverns worth the trip?

Carlsbad Caverns welcomes you to the eye-popping Big Room, the continent’s biggest cave chamber. This is a national park that leaves most visitors, even the most hard-flirted ones, in awe.

Destinations near Carlsbad Caverns

Shared by the USA and Mexico, the vast Chihuahuan Desert is the continent’s largest. While you’re here, also consider the other three national parks that this off-the-beaten-track area holds.

  • Guadalupe Mountains, TX – It’s under an hour from Carlsbad Caverns to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, meaning it’s an easy addition to your itinerary. Climb Texas’ four tallest peaks, or just gaze at them.
  • White Sands, NM – The most laughter-dense national park in the USA, White Sands National Park invites visitors of all ages to try some sand sledding. You can, of course, enjoy those white dunes by foot too.
  • Big Bend, TX – Bordered by Rio Grande, hidden Big Bend National Park is an unmatched scene for those who want to escape it all. Take in uncrowded vistas and indulge in fascinating history.

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