Recreation Passes & Permits

Caving on the Lincoln

The Guadalupe Ranger District of the Lincoln National Forest offers many recreation opportunities including the chance to explore caves. Caves provide an excellent hibernation and roost site for bat populations because temperatures remain stable and the area is generally undisturbed. Cave dwelling bats form the largest colonies of mammals on earth.

Obtaining Permits

Permits are required for any and all caving activities on the forest. Caving permits may be obtained by contacting Aaron Stockton at 575-885-4181 at the Guadalupe Ranger District in Carlsbad, NM.


White-Nose Syndrome Information

Decline of Bat Populations due to White-Nose Syndrome

Unfortunately, a disease known as White-Nose Syndrome (WNS) is rapidly killing populations of bats in the U.S. and Canada as they hibernate in caves and mines. WNS is considered one of the worst wildlife diseases in modern times and has killed millions of bats across North America. The disease is caused by a microscopic fungus known as Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd). One test as recent as May 2018 has suggested the presence of the Pd fungus in Cottonwood Cave on the Guadalupe Ranger District.

Brochure about WNS

How WNS is Spread

Although bats themselves are the primary way the fungus spreads, possible spread by human activity in caves is a major concern. Spores in the fungus can attach to people’s hair, clothing, skin, and caving equipment.  If decontamination procedures are not followed when entering and exiting a cave, the fungus can easily spread to other locations. In fact, due to spread by humans and bats, WNS is now confirmed in 33 states and 7 Canadian Provinces since initial detection in 2006.

What the Lincoln National Forest is doing about WNS

To be proactive, the Lincoln National Forest has been taking precautions since 2010 to help prevent the spread of the disease. This includes:

  • Only allowing entry into a cave with a permit
  • Requiring decontamination of clothing and gear before cave or mine entry, following national protocols. 


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