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Carlsbad Caverns Wilderness

General Location Maps Contacts Area Management Wilderness Laws Trip Planning Images

Area Management

The Carlsbad Caverns Wilderness is part of the 109 million acre National Wilderness Preservation System. This System of lands provides clean air, water, and habitat critical for rare and endangered plants and animals. In wilderness, you can enjoy challenging recreational activities like hiking, backpacking, climbing, kayaking, canoeing, rafting, horse packing, bird watching, stargazing, and extraordinary opportunities for solitude. You play an important role in helping to "secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness" as called for by the Congress of the United States through the Wilderness Act of 1964. Please follow the requirements outlined below and use Leave No Trace techniques when visiting the Carlsbad Caverns Wilderness to ensure protection of this unique area.

Backcountry camping is allowed but a free permit is required and may obtained at the visitor center.

Campfires are not allowed in Carlsbad Caverns Wilderness, or anywhere in the national park. Gas stoves are allowed when there are no fire restrictions.

Caves within the park may not entered except by special permit. Some recreational caves are available depending on experience and the use of appropriate gear. Rules, regulations, and other information concerning park caves, along with free permits, can be obtained at the Cave Resources Office. Pets are allowed in only a few small areas of the park. Pets are not allowed in any caves or within any backcountry surface areas of the park. Swimming, bathing, and fishing are prohibited in any park waters, above or below ground. All natural and cultural resources in the park are protected to conserve their intrinsic values and for the enjoyment of this and future generations. Please do not collect, harass, or damage any plants, animals, rock or geologic features, or cultural artifacts. The park is home to two cactus species that are federally listed under the Endangered Species Act. There are also four federally listed bird species using the park from time to time, including Mexican spotted owls, which probably nest here. The Migratory Bird Treat Act protects all native birds that inhabit the park. Please be especially careful not to damage any of the dozens of small cacti you will see in the park, and don’t disturb the birds.

Ecologists use the concept of plant association to help describe and recognize patterns in the way vegetation occurs in the landscape. The park’s vegetation map documents the uniqueness and diversity of its vegetation communities, with 85 plant associations ranging from desert shrublands and semi-grasslands of the lowland basins and foothills up through montane grasslands, shrublands and woodlands of the highest elevations. The map is available at: http://nhnm.unm.edu/vlibrary/pubs/index.php5. Search on keyword Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

All of the park’s wilderness is in the fire management unit that allows wildland fire use (sometimes called a ‘let-burn policy’) when all safety conditions are met and when the fire is not human-caused. Most of the wilderness is not in the prescribed fire treatment zones nor is mechanical fuel reduction planned for wilderness areas. The park’s fire management plan is available at: http://www.nps.gov/cave/parkmgmt/planning.htm




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