National Park Service

Chihuahuan Desert Network (CHDN)

I&M at Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Massive outflying of bats from Carlsbad Caverns at dusk
Massive outflying of bats from Carlsbad Caverns at dusk
NPS LogoCarlsbad Caverns National Park Home Page
CHDN park map
Location of Carlsbad Caverns National Park in the Chihuahuan Desert Network. Click for larger image.

Although Carlsbad Caverns National Park (NP) is famous for its caves, it also protects scattered woodlands and Chihuahuan Desert grassland and shrubland habitats. Freshwater riparian areas are the most threatened resource in the Chihuahuan Desert. Carlsbad Caverns NP includes Rattlesnake Springs, a rare desert wooded riparian area known for the diversity of plant and animal life found there, including migratory birds. Carlsbad Caverns NP is home to 940 plant species from 95 families, 5 species of fish, 70 different species of reptiles and amphibians, 68 species of mammals (including 17 bat species) and 365 species of birds. Between 300,000 – 400,000 Brazialian free-tailed bats call Carlsbad Caverns home during the summertime, with populations recorded as high as over 1,000,000.

Carlsbad Caverns NP is located in the Guadalupe Mountains, and preserves a portion of the Capitan Reef—one of the best-preserved, exposed Permian-age fossil reefs in the world. Water, geologic forces, climactic changes, and vast spans of time have produced and changed the fossil reef and its spectacular caves, a process that continues to the present day.

CHDN monitors air quality, climate, invasive plants, landbirds, landscape dynamics, spring ecosystems, and uplands vegetation and soils at Carlsbad Caverns NP.

Life Zone

The elevation in the park ranges from 1,096 m (3,595 ft) in the desert lowlands to 1,987 m (6,520 ft) atop the Capitan Reef. Carlsbad Caverns NP contains all four life zones: desert and semi-desert grasslands, desert scrub and woodlands, montane chaparral and montane woodlands. Average annual precipitation is approximately 37 cm (14.5 in).

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Last Updated: March 21, 2017 Contact Webmaster