The drive from Ruidoso to Carlsbad takes you to an infamous alien hotspot, the town of Roswell. I had always wanted to visit Roswell but was left slightly disappointed. There’s really not much to do in the town itself (although we had a good lunch at Tinnie’s Deli). The Roswell UFO Museum has the potential to be really great but it’s a bit dated although the kids loved the pretend aliens.
My main (and I think probably the only) reason to visit Carlsbad was to pay homage to the Carlsbad Caverns, beautiful caves including the 5th largest chamber in North America. Remember people I studied Geography at University. I live for this stuff.
How did we get to Carlsbad?
Via Roswell. The drive takes 2.5 hours and we spent about 2 hours in Roswell, including lunch and the UFO museum.
What did we do in Carlsbad?
- Beat the heat with a visit to the Pecos River and the manmade beach. You can swim although we took a pedalo out to explore the river and work off the BBQ dinner we were about to eat.
- The most likely reason you’re in Carlsbad is to visit the famous caves (approx 30 minute drive). You must go and see the nightly bat flat – call the National Park hotline to find out what time it is scheduled for. Prior to the evening bat flight, a ranger gives a talk on bats and then everyone waits in silence (all electronics off, crying kids will be asked to leave) until the bats swoop out into the night, truly a magical and spooky sight!
- We then paid a visit to the caverns during the day. If I had been without kids (!) I would have opted for one of the more adventurous tours slithering through caves. Strollers are not allowed inside the cave so remember to bring your baby carrier if necessary. Your best bet with young kids is to stick to a self guided tour of the Big Room which you can access each way by elevator from the Visitor Centre. It took us about an hour to walk through (me gasping in awe at the stalactites and my two-year old mostly moaning). Pack jumpers as it’s cool inside the cave.
Where did we eat in Carlsbad?
- Finger licking BBQ at Danny’s Place.
Where did we stay in Carlsbad?
Hotel prices are high in comparison to other towns in New Mexico (taking advantage of the National Park visitors). We stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites where we had a fairly large standard room and was very clean.
For more on our New Mexico Roadtrip