Deep beneath the Chihuahuan Desert in southern New Mexico is a labyrinth of more than 300 limestone caves, carved over 250 million years ago. The park also preserves biologically diverse desert lands above ground, as well as a portion of an exposed fossil reef. One of the most notable sights at Carlsbad Cavern is the spectacle of the park’s 400,000 Brazilian free-tailed bats leaving the cave each night at sunset in dramatic clouds of flapping wings; visitors can attend a special ranger program and enjoy this striking exodus from early spring to mid-autumn, before the bats migrate south for the winter.


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