This US National Park's Hauntingly Beautiful Sunset Attraction Makes It A Must-Visit

Every traveler has their own idea of what makes a vacation ideal. While preferences vary, a vast number of explorers set their sights on visiting national parks each year. According to the National Park Service 2022 Visitation Report, America's national parks saw an impressive 312 million visits last year.

Many visitors are inevitably drawn to national parks in pursuit of stunning landscapes. Opportunities to connect with and encounter amazing wildlife are also a big draw. Those who are looking for the very best of both within a setting that speaks to hauntingly beautiful views at sunset will find it waiting for them at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in Carlsbad, New Mexico.

The National Park Service reports Carlsbad Caverns as home to over 119 caves on-site. Where most limestone caves are formed by a combination of carbonic acid and water over time, the caves of Carlsbad Caverns originate differently. Their unique structure is the result of sulfuric acid's work on the terrain resulting in long passageways underground that are extremely dry.

This unique geology offers up seemingly endless possibilities for guests to explore. The caves are also the ideal place for bat colonies to thrive. To that end, the National Park Service offers a unique opportunity for visitors to enjoy the one-of-a-kind Bat Flight Program at Carlsbad Caverns. It's most definitely a top experience to add to your itinerary when you're heading this way in the name of an unforgettable adventure.

Participate in Carlsbad Caverns' Bat Flight Program

Bats are undeniably amazing creatures. As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service points out, "Bats play an essential role in pest control, pollinating plants and dispersing seeds. ... Across all agricultural production, consumption of insect pests by bats results in a savings of more than $3 billion per year."

Carlsbad Caverns visitors who engage in the Bat Flight Program have an incredible opportunity to see a spectacular moment in nature at sunset, while also better understanding bats with the help of a knowledgeable guide.

The Bat Flight Program is hosted at Carlsbad Caverns each evening between May and October. The program is led by a ranger and kicks off with an educational talk about the bats that inhabit the park caves. Guests are invited to gather at the park's Bat Flight Amphitheater which offers up unsurpassed views of bats emerging from the caves at sunset. The mass emergence of bats from the cave is breathtaking and bound to be a memorable moment for visitors.

When you add the Bat Flight Program to your Carlsbad Caverns itinerary, you won't have to worry about added trip costs or precise planning. The program is free of charge and there's no need to make a reservation to attend. In the event you happen to miss the evening program, you can always show up at the amphitheater before sunrise the following morning to witness bats returning to the cave to roost.

Expect an inspiring learning experience

During the Bat Flight Program, in-depth information about the bats that are seen at sunset is offered up as part of the overall experience. Audience members that have come to witness this incredible moment will learn more about bat behavior, environmental impacts, and modern threats to the species. The ranger will also offer up insightful information on the history of Carlsbad Caverns during the presentation.

The amphitheater is a fascinating venue to experience thanks to its sloped setting. The seating faces the entrance of the cave directly which means no matter where you settle in, you'll have a prime view when bats emerge. It's good for visitors to note that the amphitheater is built with wheelchair-accessible ramps in place as well, making the evening program an experience everyone can enjoy.

Participating in the Bat Flight Program at sunset is an experience where guests to Carlsbad Caverns could potentially witness three of the 17 different species of bats that call this protected destination home. The largest colony here is made up of Brazilian free-tailed bats, according to the National Park Service, while the other two species in the viewing cavern include fringed myotis and cave myotis varieties. As far as the number of bats you'll see, "Bat numbers in the Cavern are variable," explains the National Park Service. "The resident colony was around 400,000 in summer of 2005. ... There are seasonal fluctuations of the numbers, as well as daily fluctuations." Still, you're bound to see plenty of bats with every program you attend. Just be sure to leave your camera behind because electronic devices aren't allowed to protect the well-being of the bats during flight.