Our first adventure on our way to the Gulf Coast, was Carlsbad Caverns National Park. The experience did not disappoint! We stayed at a hotel in Carlsbad, NM and also stopped briefly at Guadalupe National Park (just West of Carlsbad Caverns National Park) on the way. All of the area was very dry and desert type landscape. Interesting that two National Parks are situated right next to one another.
I checked the website ahead of time and was aware we needed to arrive early in order to get our tickets, and numbers were limited. The wait was not too long, and our departure time was 10:15 am. Because of COVID, entrance to the caverns was limited to the “natural entrance” only, requiring a steep and lengthy hike down of about 1.25 miles. Good health and very grippy shoes were necessary in order to prevent slipping on the damp path.
Pricing note: If you have the National Park Pass, it does allow free entry to the caverns. So if you are retired, don’t forget your card! It saved us $30 total. There is no park entrance fee.
The walk down was challenging. I walk many miles every week, and yet the next day my calves were quite sore. But the hike down was amazing. During normal circumstances you would be able to take the elevator down. In order to help social distance, visitors were required to hike down, then take the elevator up, one family at a time. It was a long wait at the bottom for the elevators. I do not know if I could hike back up, but I would certainly recommend the hike down. FYI, the caves are 75 stories below ground (the area underneath the visitors center where the elevator is located).
We spent a couple of hours walking around under ground. I was amazed at the lighting installed and even rest rooms and a snack area that was available near the elevators, so far underground. Currently the snack area was not open , there were just a few souvenir items and drinks being sold.
Although my photos do not capture the unbelievable beauty found on our adventure, they will give you an idea of the majestic creations that grew deep underground over the years. I did see one guy there with a tripod. I’m sure he got fantastic photos. Me, no way I would have made it down that slope caring any additional camera equipment!
Hopefully these photos below will give you a glimpse of the beauty inside these magnificent caves.
Some random facts found on Carlsbad Cavern’s website:
- The caves in Carlsbad Caverns are 56°F throughout the year, with high humidity.
- At present there are 117 known caves in the park, and more will be discovered. The cave known as Carlsbad Cavern is only one of these.
- The Big Room in Carlsbad Caverns, at 8.2 acres, is the largest accessible cave chamber in North America.
- Although Carlsbad Caverns is rightly known for its famous caves, there are also more than 50 miles of aboveground trails that explore the desert landscape.
- There are at least 17 species of bats found in the park. The most common are Brazilian (sometimes called Mexican) free-tailed bats; they can be seen exiting Carlsbad Cavern each night.
- Lechuguilla Cave, made famous on the Planet Earth series, is located in Carlsbad Caverns National Park. It cannot be accessed by the public, and entry is allowed only for special research purposes.
If you ever get the opportunity, Carlsbad Caverns are certainly worth a visit!
“Do not always run away from the darkness! Remember the beautiful lakes which are hidden inside the dark caves! In the least expected places, there exist the most beautiful treasures!”
~ Mehmet Murat Ildan