Up until 1996 visitors had unfettered access to all the main cavern rooms. This changed because of vandalism, and since that time access to the four “Scenic Rooms” is strictly controlled. Tours to these four rooms are limited in numbers, escorted, and require reservations. By all means make sure that you reserve a spot on one of these tours or you’ll miss some of the most spectacular formations in Carlsbad.
Give yourself at least one full hour to stroll from the cavern entrance to the meeting point in the Big Room. We made it in from the Visitors Center in just over forty minutes, but I wouldn’t want to try that again. The trails are steep and at times slippery, and weekend crowds will block your way if you’re rushed for time.
The four scenic rooms on this special tour are: The King’s Palace, The Papoose Room, The Queen’s Chamber, and The Green Lake Room.