FATMAP by Strava

Slaughter Canyon Cave

A rugged, yet short hike with excellent views of Slaughter Canyon.

Hiking Difficult

1.7 km
148 m
148 m
0-1 hrs
Low Point
1.3 km
High Point
1.4 km
Slaughter Canyon Cave Map

This is a short yet difficult hike awarding excellent views of Slaughter Canyon Cave and the surrounding canyon. Though "the cave itself can only be seen on a ranger-guided tour," this is one of the classic day hikes in Carlsbad Caverns NP and should not be passed up. With nearly 500' of gain in just half a mile, the views looking north into the canyon are spectacular.


Other than this day hike, the cave's primary appeal is the reservation-only tours, which are described as a "moderately strenuous adventure" by the park. "Highlights of the tour may include the 89-foot high Monarch, one of the world's tallest columns; the Christmas Tree, a sparkling, crystal-decorated column; and the Chinese Wall, a delicate, ankle-high rimstone dam." For those interested, reservations can be made by calling 877-444-6777 or by visiting Recreation.gov. The 5.5-hour tour costs $15 for adults and $7.50 for children.

The trailhead is shared with Slaughter Canyon Trail, which connects to the Guadalupe Ridge Trail, a 100-mile long National Recreation Trail open to hikers, backpackers, and even pack animals or 4x4 vehicles at times. The road to the trailhead is unpaved, though most passenger vehicles with moderate clearance should be fine. Pit toilets are available, but not water.

Sources: https://www.nps.gov/cave/planyourvisit/slaughtercanyoncavetour.htm https://www.nps.gov/cave/slaughter-canyon-cave-trail.htm



Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

all year round


  • Wildlife
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Wild flowers
  • Family friendly

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area