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The Best National Parks for Viewing Bats

The National Park Service and many wildlife agencies are celebrating Bat Week from October 24 to 31. Like many similar events, the week brings awareness to the animal and helps educate the public about conservation. You can celebrate the week in person by visiting the best national parks for bat viewing.

Bat Week is an international event, and the organization behind it says bats are vital to the natural world. The creatures of the night eat tons of insects, pollinate flowers and help spread seeds to grow new plants and trees.

Several national parks have great spots to view bats every night. Here are a few of those destinations.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad Caverns is by far the ultimate national park for bat viewing. Almost every night from May through October, somewhere between 200,000 and 500,000 bats emerge from the cave and fly into the night sky. Park Rangers host events starting on Memorial Day at the Bat Flight Amphitheater at the Carlsbad Cavern’s Natural Entrance, where the bats first appear. However, for a truly unique experience, if you head to the entrance early in the morning, you can catch the bats heading home. 

Congaree National Park

best national parks for bats
(Source: Getty Images/Daniela Duncan)

Congaree is known for its low-lying marshlands, but did you know bats make up 21% of the tiny park’s biodiversity? There are ten different species of bats found within the park. While there isn’t an official bat viewing area, if you’re there in the evening, you’ll see plenty of bats flying in the night sky, helping fend off some mosquitos. 

El Malpais National Monument 

El Malpais National Monument for bats
(Source: NPS)

New Mexico may be the best destination for bat fans. While Carlsbad Caverns National Park sits in New Mexico’s southeast corner, El Malpais National Monument is found on the northwest side, and it has its own bat cave where you can watch the animals emerge nightly. Park Rangers say peak bat season is usually around the first week of July. Visitors should arrive about 20 minutes before sunset to get the best experience.

headlamps for bat viewing

Honorable Mention: Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, TX

best bat viewing
(Source: Getty Images/Margarita Almpanezou)

The City of Austin, TX, is far from any national park. However, there is almost no destination like this. The Congress Avenue Bridge is the largest urban bat colony in the world. Texas Parks and Wildlife believe more than one million bats call the bridge home. Nightly in the summer months, hundreds of people will gather to watch the bats fly out from under the bridge and head south of the city to feed for the night. 

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