Friday, April 23, 2010

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Wow!  What a finale for our little “cave” trip this last week!  We headed down through the town of Carlsbad and on to Carlsbad Caverns National Park around 10ish.  It was about an hour’s drive and pretty windy the whole way.  The forecast is for 30-40 mph winds with gusts up to 55.  Good day to spend underground…

On the way into the Visitor Center, we stopped at several interpretive pull-outs.  One was a short hike down to a cave that was used by Native Americans long ago.  The Mescalero Apaches frequented this area – you’d have to be as tough as they were to survive around here!


Another stop was at the Walnut Canyon overlook where we found this cool “almost blooming” cactus.


Quite a view from up here.


We checked out the bookstore first and picked up a National Parks Passport booklet and the CCNP stamp for it.  It’ll be fun to keep track of the national parks as we visit them.  Also found a small book on Texas wildflowers so – yes, Mom – I can start identifying the flowers in my pictures!

We then headed out to the car to eat our lunch before heading down to the cave.  We opted for the elevator rather than the hike.  We went down 750 feet – I tried not to think about that too much:):)  This cave is really huge compared to the other two we’ve seen recently.  The “Big Room” is the largest known limestone chamber in the Western Hemisphere and is approximately the size of 14 football fields.  The loop trail is 1 1/4 miles long and takes about an hour.  There is also a lower section of the cave which requires someone braver than us to get into!  Here are a few of our pictures:

P1010844 P1010848

This is “Giant Dome” and it is 62 feet high – it really is difficult to comprehend how large these stalagmites really are!  The ceiling at it’s highest is 255 feet up – WOW!

 P1010877 And, here’s proof that I really did spend two hours waaayyyyy underground!


John’s headlamp came in very handy to see lots of stuff that wasn’t lighted.  It was also a great help to light up formations enough that I could get the camera to focus on them!


This area was not lit at all and we were quite surprised at how the picture turned out!



This one is the “Chinese Theater”.


Quite an amazing place!  We didn’t get home till nearly 5:00 and spent the evening trying to figure out where we want to go tomorrow.   Hmmm…either the Desert Zoo/Museum near here or we might head over to Ruidoso to check out the kite festival and Billy the Kid’s old turf…  Guess we’ll sleep on it!

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