What we saw yesterday at Carlsbad Caverns National Park is ranked right up there among the top things we’ve seen so far on this adventure. This is definitely on the “must see list.” The cave we saw the day before in Texas was spectacular, but what makes Carlsbad so mind-blowing is scale.
Visitors can enter the cave either by walking down the 750-foot decent via the natural entrance, or by elevator. Wanting some exercise in our day, we opted for the long walk down and we’re glad we did. The decent took us about an hour and half and we went through some amazing spaces that folks who enter by elevator miss. The natural entrance is also a viewing area for nightly bat flights.
This was the first cave tour we’ve had without a guide and I really liked the experience. We moved at our own pace and could look closer at what interested us. My brilliant move of the day was grabbing the flashlight before leaving the RV. It made the experience a million times better since the cave lighting is only pointed at what the park thinks is most interesting.
The subterranean world is like something out of a comic book or a science fiction movie. The spaces are so incredibly large, if let your imagination go as you walk through the caverns, it becomes a set for post-apocalyptic communities or other-world alien dwellings. You can see in the picture below the trail we were on and the type of rooms we were walking through.
Drop by drop the slow process of speleothem happened everywhere creating the stalactites, stalagmites and flowstone. Billions and billion of drops later these massive monuments loomed all around us.
During the 3.5 hours we spent in the cave we took lots of photos. Unfortunately, due to the lighting situation, our camera had to use a slow shutter speed which made getting shots in focus a challenge. Not many really show the true scale or beauty of the caverns. These few can give you an idea, but nothing is like being down there in the silence and chill (56°F year round) walking in this landscape.
Below is a picture of the “Caveman” in the “Big Room” of the caverns. The Big Room is the main part of the cave and it takes bout 1.5 hours to do the whole walk. If you look at the rock face, he looks a little like a neanderthal.
These stalactites below are actually probably 30′ long and the spire is probably 50′ tall.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park didn’t disappoint and it’s one of the places we could return to again and take more of the tours. We just couldn’t see it all in one day so we opted for the basic introduction. There are also several ranger guided tours that takes visitors in the deepest parts of the caverns for an additional fee.