Caves are amazing! To think that nature has been working on them for millions of years and most are accidentally discovered by man it makes me wonder how many more are under our feet just waiting to be discovered. So I am a fan of caves, Cheryl....not so much.....until today that is.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park is located about 20 minutes Southwest of Carlsbad, NM. We arrived just after 9 AM. Not a real busy day so plenty of room to park and no lineups for tickets. You can opt for a ranger-led tour of some parts of the cave that would be off limits to the general public. We chose to take the self-guided tour of the Big Room. This way we could take our time and not moved along with the herd.
|The road into the Park.|
|Carlsbad Caverns is located within an old limestone reef from an ancient inland sea. The edge of the sea was the Guadalupe Mountains on the northwest side.|
|Some old employee residences built in the 1940's.|
|This amphitheater is used to watch the resident bats leave the cavern. No bats left though as they migrated south at this time of year.|
|The trail down to the natural entrance of the cavern.|
|Looking back up.|
|Mexican Freetail bats spend their summers here.|
There are two ways into the Cavern. One is to take the elevator down into the Big Room. It is 754 feet down and takes about one minute. The other way is to walk. Through the natural entrance and down a paved twisty trail that is roughly 1.25 miles (2 KM) long. Cheryl took the elevator.....I walked!
Once in the Big Room you are greeted with an underground rest area including rest rooms and a lunch area. The walkways are paved with hand rails. The trail is a bit slippery in places but this is a natural cave and work in progress so the odd water drip hits you on the head. Good luck I'm told.
|The Lions Tail|
This was Cheryl's first cave experience, and not likely the last We enjoyed the walk through the Big Room. To say the formations were incredible was a severe understatement.
We both took the elevator to the top. We looked at the displays topside and grabbed some lunch in the restaurant. Next we took the desert drive through 9.5 miles of beautiful Walnut Canyon landscape which is within the National Park.
|Snack bar and gift shop, 750 feet underground.|
|A model of the caverns. The Visitor Center is shown on the surface. The clear tube is the elevator.|
|Model showing the trail through the Big Room.|
|Who thought up the scientific name of Snottite!|
We drove back through the town of Carlsbad and back to Brantley State Park and another beautiful sunset.
|Hand-held moon shot tonight.|
Maybe rain and thunderstorms tomorrow (Wednesday) so we may stick close to home. Thursday we move to Alamogordo.
.....and that was Our View From Here!