One of the more unique sights at any national park!
Every evening in the mid-spring to mid-fall, thousands upon thousands of bats exit the caves at Carlsbad Caverns National Park to enjoy the insects buzzing around in the humid air.
This event takes place without fail at sunset each evening, and visitors to the park can enjoy the spectacle. When the 400,000 bats get ready to leave each summer evening, a park ranger will talk to waiting public about the bats and their unique habits.
This free program is a great way to enjoy some of the interesting wildlife at Carlsbad Caverns. All you have to do is make sure you’re free around sunset one evening on your visit to this area. It’s important to remember that bats don’t use human clocks! The program doesn’t take place at a set time each night because the bats will use the natural rhythm of sunrise and sunset to know when they should take flight for the evening. If you’re wondering exactly what time sunset is going to be on any given day of your visit, check the visitor’s center when you get to the Caverns to see. Remember that sunset will be earlier each day as the summer wanes!
The bat flight program starts around Memorial Day. The bats at Carlsbad Caverns migrate to Mexico during the winter, but they come back to the caverns in April or May to have their young and enjoy summer hunting. Park rangers say that the best bat flights of the year take place in August. This is when the baby bats that have been born throughout the summer join their parents on nightly flights. They have to start learning to fly well enough to make it to Mexico for the migration in mid-October.
Early risers can also enjoy the bat flight program at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in the morning. Each day around sunrise, the bats will return to the cave to sleep the day away. This is a totally different flight experience than the evening flight. At this point, bats will return in smaller groups rather than making a mass movement of the entire clan of 400,000 plus. Individual bats will make spectacular, showy dives into the caves, reaching unbelievable speeds. There isn’t a park ranger to guide you for this event, but you’re welcome to enjoy the spectacle on your own any morning during the summer or early fall.