Carlsbad Field Office Recreational Caves

The Carlsbad Field Office manages hundreds of caves and karst features. Many of them are appropriate for recreational caving. Some of the caves require permits due to sensitive resources or technical complexity. The majority of the permitted caves are limestone maze caves. Most are horizontal, but some require SRT skills in certain areas. Caves vary from large walking passages to very tight squeezes.

Permitted caves include Doc Brito, KFFC, Jurnigan #2, Little Manhole, Lost Cave, Sand, and Wind-Hicks. There are also popular non-permitted caves such as Parks Ranch Cave and caves in the Burton Flats area. To visit any cave, make sure to wear appropriate clothing and gear, including a helmet, at least one helmet-mounted light and two other sources of light, gloves, and knee pads. The minimum group number for a permitted cave is three people. The maximum amount varies by cave.

All cavers must follow current White-nose Syndrome (WNS) protocols. New Mexico's WNS status is currently intermediate. No gear from WNS positive states is permitted to be used in the Carlsbad Field Office Caves. Gear from other intermediate or WNS-free areas must be properly decontaminated before and after the cave trip. Contact the BLM Carlsbad Field Office for more details.

Adventure is at Your Fingertips



  • None. 


  • Parks Ranch Cave is open year round, other cave access varies by season.
  • Contact the Carlsbad Field Office for information about seasonal closures and permit requirements for other caves. 

What to Bring

  • Helmet with headlamp to keep your noggin safe and provide hands free lighting.
  • Gloves for hand protection
  • Elbow pads to help in tight climb
  • Kneepads for protection in crawls
  • Sturdy boots to provide good support and traction

What to Take

  • Nothing, leave only footprints and take only pictures!


  • Carry a pack with emergency lights, first aid, food, and water.
  • Cave safely and responsibly. If new to caving, find an experienced mentor.
  • Inform others of where you are going and your expected return time. 
  • Be alert for rattlesnakes and other animals that are also drawn to entrance areas of caves.
  • Be aware of sudden storms. Caves can be subject to extreme flash flooding. Do not become a drowning victim. 


  • There are no toilets or other amenities

 FLICKR Slideshow

  Carlsbad Field Office - Recreational Caves

Geographic Coordinates

32.418633972703, -104.21983573294


Directions to individual caves are included in the permit. Many cave locations are considered sensitive information by the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act of 1988. For further information or to request a permit, please contact the Carlsbad Field Office at 575-234-5972.