Visiting the bat cave in Phoenix with kids is one of those experiences that may not be on the top of your list, but is very unique to the area! And we’re not talking about Batman’s lair. The Phoenix bat cave is a summer home (in a flood control tunnel) to thousands of Mexican free-tail bats. Around sunset, they fly out for the night – sometimes in epic droves!
We’ve been wanting to visit for years, but every summer the temps keep us away. There’s nothing more miserable for kids, and adults, to wait and wait in the 110 degree heat just to see some wild animals fly, Finally in mid-September, we opted for a more cooler evening to visit the bat cave. We’ve heard that the best time view viewing is June-August; but they can be seen as early as March and in to October.
The cave/flood control tunnel is located about 7-8 minute walk from the intersection of Camelback and 40th street. There are a couple of parking options. We’ve heard of people parking in the lot next to Chelsea’s Kitchen. There’s also a nearby business park, and we opted for one of the visitor’s parking spaces here. The GPS coordinates are (33.5128862, -111.9971341). You might be able to park elsewhere, but we saw a lot of “permits needed” signs. There were none that we found in this lot. Head south to the canal, and turn right (west).
It’s about a 5 minute walk from this point. After a couple minutes you will see a paved path to the right. You can take this, or just walk a bit further on the gravel canal path until you see the paved area again on the right. You will also spot the flood control tunnel, fencing, and info signs.
The evening we visited, sunset was at 6:23pm. We arrived around 6:30pm. There were a few bats flying out, but the real action didn’t start until around 6:35pm. We watched from over the tunnel for a minute or two, then went to the right (down the paved portion) and took a side path to be next to the fence. This is the spot we recommend! The bats fly out of the cave and right over your head! Try to keep the kiddos quiet too; we noticed that when our toddler would yell (as toddlers will), the bats paused their exit for a minute. We stayed here until about 7pm, at church point it was getting too dark to really observe the bats.
So in summary, here are our top tips for visiting the bat cave in Phoenix with kids:
- Find appropriate parking, and give yourself 5-8 minutes to walk to the cave
- Don’t worry if you’re not there right at sunset! The action starts about 5-10 minutes after sunset.
- Best viewing area is on the south portion of the fence (canal side); the bats will fly right over your head when exiting!
- Bring snacks for little ones that may need help staying quiet. Also bring water for everyone. It’s hot out!
- More information can be found here.