We spent a week in the campground at Guadalupe Mountains National Park, but we took a day off in the middle to run up to Carlsbad Caverns. That’s just about a half-hour drive north, just into New Mexico. It’s actually still part of the Guadalupe Mountains, just a different national park!
There are two ways to get into the cavern. One is to take the elevator down from the Visitor Center. The other is to walk down through the Natural Entrance. We’re hikers, of course we walked! The entrance is through the amphitheater where they watch the bats emerge in the evening. We were there early in the day, so the only bats we saw were sleeping.
The walk in is something over a mile and descends about 750 feet in that distance. The whole way, you’re surrounded by rock formations ranging from the beautiful to the bizarre. It’s difficult to imagine what it was like to find this cavern as a 16-year-old cowhand carrying a lantern! Texas-born Jim White first entered the cavern around 1898. He may not have been the first to enter, but he was the first to explore extensively.
Carlsbad Cavern is not the largest cavern in the world, or even the country ( I think Mammoth Cave is bigger), but it’s beautiful and full of fascinating formations. The main cave (the Big Room) can be toured on your own, other side caverns require a tour with a ranger. We did both and I didn’t take good notes on where I took pictures, so I’m just going to throw them out there and not worry about which cavern they were in :
Perhaps the coolest part of the tour (which is at a constant 56ºF (13ºC) year-round) was when we went off into a side cave with a ranger who told a tale of Jim White being in the cave and having his lantern go out. Then the ranger turned off the lights. That’s DARK! Here’s what it looked like with just the ranger’s lantern, which gives you some appreciation of how crazy…I mean courageous the early explorers must have been. 🙂
And, of course, Those tourists were following us around again! This one was taken in the Big Room. We really enjoyed our visit and look forward to seeing different side caves on our next visit.
As some of you are aware, the delay since my last post is largely due to my efforts to get ready for my first show! Also there was a quick trip to New Orleans, details in my next post… If you’re in the Dallas area next Friday or Saturday, come join us at the Urban Artist Market at the Addison Conference and Theatre Center! Use the discount code URBAN35 at urbanartistmarket.com.