Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Located beneath the Guadalupe Mountains, is an extensive cave network protected by Carlsbad Caverns National Park. The park contains more than 118  of the over 300 limestone caves in this area. The caves are part of a fossil reef formed by an inland sea millions of years ago. While Carlsbad Caverns is famous for its caves, there are also plenty of above ground treasures to be explored in this area of the Chihuahuan Desert.

Inside Carlsbad Cavern

Dog-Friendly Activities

Carlsbad Caverns is not one of the dog-friendly national parks. However, they do a wonderful job of providing a safe place for your dog to stay while you enjoy the park. If you are visiting the park and want to see the caves, hike a trail, or spend some time in the visitors center, you have two options.

  1. If the day is not forecasted to get above 70 degrees F, you are welcome to leave your dog in your vehicle. For dogs used to waiting in a vehicle and those traveling with an RV, this can be a great option.
  2. If it is warmer out or you are not comfortable leaving your pet in your vehicle, there is a concessioner run kennel service on location. The kennel is for day use only, is available on a first come first serve basis, and the employees do not handle the dogs. Despite the basic accomodations, it is so nice to have an on-location temperature controlled location to leave your dog in. For more information about the on-site kennel and fees for use, visit the NPS website.

During our visit, we were able to leave the pups lounging on the beds in our RV. We took about an hour to explore the caves. However, we didn’t want to leave the pups much longer as it was their first time being left for more than a quick run into the store. If we hadn’t had the pups, we could have spent so much longer. The caves were magnificent!

Natural entrance to the main caverns


Carlsbad Caverns National Park does not offer any front-country camping. Primitive camping is allowed in areas of the backcountry.

On a plus side, the park is surrounded by BLM land that allows permit-free tent and RV camping. You can check regulations with the local Carlsbad BLM office (575-234-5972).

You can also find a brief description of the BLM campsite we used outside of Whites City in our Guadalupe Mountains National Park post.

Activities in the Surrounding Areas

If you are visiting Carlsbad Caverns National Park, there are several other places of note within a couple hours drive.

Gaudalupe Mountains National Park is only 40 minutes away (in Texas) from Carlsbad Caverns and is definitely worth a stop.

If you are looking for a more dog-friendly place to enjoy some of our nation’s natural beauty, consider a national forest. During our trip, we stopped at Silver Campground in Lincoln National Forest. There are hiking trails in the area, but we mostly walked around the low-traffic roads near our campground. We were dealing with tire issues during our stay here and didn’t have the mobility to find the longer trails. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. Let us know if you have a favorite national forest location in New Mexico. 

If national forests aren’t your style, there are also a lot of lovely state parks in New Mexico. We stayed at Leasburg Dam State Park as we traveled west from the Carlsbad Caverns area. Leasburg Dam State Park is located near Las Cruces, New Mexico. This state park offered showers and electrical hook-ups for the RV in addition to a lovely, non-strenuous hiking loop.

But our favorite stop in New Mexico (and one of the highlights of the trip) was White Sands National Monument. If you are traveling in New Mexico with (or without) dogs, we highly recommend stopping here. After our limited exploration of Guadalupe NP and Carlsbad Caverns NP, being able to explore the entire monument with the dogs was a huge bonus. And the monument was amazing! 

White sand stretched for almost as far as the eye could see, with distant mountains rising in the distance. Walking up and down the dunes was a bit strenuous, but the otherwordly feel made you want to walk in it forever. The only downside was how fast the sand heated up. Our tips: Arrive early, bring plenty of water, make sure the sand isn’t too hot for puppy paws, and don’t over-exert yourself or your pup.

As always, we would love your comments. Especially if you have more to add on dog-friendly outdoor activities in this region. Let us know your thoughts!


Kate is the writer of Pawsitively Intrepid. She has spent the last 9 years working full-time as a veterinarian, treating dogs and cats. But as of June 2023, she is taking a year to travel with her dog, volunteer, and work on some passion projects.

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