Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico

To kick off our New Mexico weekend, Jon and I drove out to Carlsbad, New Mexico to see the famous Carlsbad Caverns.  We flew into El Paso, Texas late on Thursday night and got up bright and early Friday to drive out to Carlsbad.  As we drove out to the Chihuahuan Desert, it was pouring!  This surprised me, since it’s the desert and all, but it rained pretty much all. day. long!  Luckily, the caverns are the perfect place to visit in the rain, since you are underground!

As we pulled into Carlsbad, which is a tiny town, I saw this guy and HAD to have my picture taken.  I really wanted to visit the famed, Roswell, New Mexico but we didn’t have time.  So, this was the closest I got to an alien encounter. 😛

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After I cheesed with the aliens, it was time to see the caverns!  It’s funny, as you drive into the National Park, the landscape is no different from what you’ve seen for the past few hours on the highway.  The real views are below the surface!

After parking, we decided to hike into the caverns through the natural entrance (think walking into a giant cave) though they had an elevator straight to the bottom.  We highly recommend hiking in!  Most of the experience is made on your hike in.  It is downhill, a flat/paved trail (even fine for wheelchairs or strollers) and you can take the elevator back up, so it’s well worth the time and energy!  It was still pouring and we didn’t pack rain gear for this trip (go figure it would rain when we visit the desert), so we walked quickly to get underground!

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Looking up and back at “the hole.”  The natural light was SO bright and quickly faded as we hiked deeper into the cave.

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As you hike down and in, the atmosphere of the cave changes your sensory awareness completely.  It was SO quiet, dark and still inside!  They encourage silence or speaking at a whisper volume and it totally makes sense; you don’t have to speak loudly because it is so quiet!  The cave is void of any weather (no temperature changes, no wind, no rain) so it is in a constant state of peace.  I found this surprising (I have never been inside a cave before) but so refreshing!  All you hear is the dripping of water on the cave walls and a few bats.

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Along the way down, there are tons of stalactites and stalagmites that resemble things.  Some are labeled and it’s fun to imagine what the explorers were thinking when they first discovered the caverns.  This wonderful place was formed when sulfuric acid dissolved the surrounding limestone, leaving behind the magnificent caverns!  The constant dripping sound inside the cave reminds you that the caverns are continually growing and changing.  As rain water seeps down through the rock, formations are built, drip by drip.

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The “Lion’s Tail”

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This ladder was used by the original cave explorers…I’m not sure I’d want to go down that ladder into the abyss…

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Carlsbad is truly a place you have to see to understand; I’ve never been anywhere like it and pictures definitely don’t do it justice!  Jon had been to caves/caverns in New York as a kid, but said this was a whole new experience.  The sheer size and vastness of the caverns is awesome.  We both felt like we were on a different planet (maybe the aliens had gotten to us)! 😛 If you’re ever in El Paso, make the trek out to Carlsbad- it’s well worth the time!

Also, we stopped off at Guadalupe Mountains National Park on our way back to El Paso.  It was still pouring, so we weren’t able to hike, but the park looked really cool!  These two parks could make a perfect day trip from El Paso!

Happy Trails,

K, J and P

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