A Photographic Stroll Through One Of The Most Wondrous Sites Ever: Part One
Last winter at about this time on the calendar, our family took off on a massive road trip to explore the southwestern USA. Now, I had good intentions regarding blog posting most of my trip, and did indeed make a few posts while in transit, but then the great diesel engine blow up experience happened, a dramatic thing indeed, and that event stretched into a saga that derailed my posting of our experiences. And so goes life!
That said, I honestly cannot even remember if I posted about our wandering through Carlsbad Caverns in southern New Mexico, but the place is so dang cool that I am going to post about it now!
Carlsbad Caverns National Park is located in the middle of nowhere in Southeastern New Mexico. It's a huge limestone cavern that is so spectacular that it draws visitors from all over the planet. My first thought as we drove up the windy paved road in the middle of the desert toward the entrance to the cavern was to chuckle at just how remote the place is. When you reach the end of the winding paved road and arrive at the National Park Service visitor center, your eyes are greeted with a scene that reminded me of an international airport, there will be quite literally people from all over the planet checking out the caverns when you visit. I heard a plethora of languages, especially the universal one, the gasps of delighted awe.
It's fifteen dollars to visit the caverns, which is in my opinion a fantastic deal. You have the option of hiking down to the Big Room, or riding the elevator. The Big Room is a huge expanse of cavern geologic delight. Stalactites and Stalagmites of all the limestone varieties are everywhere you look, and I cannot emphasize the vastness of the place. One thing that stuck in my brain was one of the rangers telling us that The Big Room is three football fields from end to end in size.
It takes at least and hour and a half to walk the paved trail down to The Big Room, and if you are able, I totally recommend the descent. As you walk along the path from the visitor center to the cavern entrance you spy this big gaping black maw of into the earth beckoning. Surrounding the entrance is an amphitheater that people can perch in for some bat watching, apparently there is quite a bat show during part of the year.
Me though, I was there for the spelunking, and as we dropped into the Earth I felt the delightful feeling of atmospheric change and my nose was tickled by the slightly musty smell that accompanies going under the ground. The Cavern's air is actually pretty great thanks to a whole bunch of scientific reasons, and let me tell you, the Park Service has a masterful program running that immerses you into the whole Cavern looking experience. We had one of those pocket docent devices that explained things about the cavern as you walked by interpretive sites. The lighting was just masterful, it was done in a way that you could enjoy the sites of the cave without being glaring or obnoxious to the ecosystem in any way.
Deeper and deeper into the earth we went, winding down the asphalt path. Apparently people went down into the cavern in guano harvesting buckets when tours of the caverns first began, and I am not going to lie, that sounds like an awesome time! I would love to careen into a massive cave in a wooden bucket!
Walking down into the mineral wonderland wasn't too shabby though, just look at all the magnificent sites we got to take in!: