New Mexico Summer Vacation - Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns
Whites City, New Mexico
June 30th, 2019

Once we got off of the main road and headed towards the Caverns, the landscape changed considerably. We've been looking at barren, flat land for miles upon miles,
rolling hills is a welcomed change. 

Our final stop on our journey around New Mexico is Carlsbad Caverns. Located on the very southern edge of the state. We've traveled from Albuquerque to Cuervo to Roswell and now here. 
Covered quite a bit of ground in just a few days. 

The caves of Carlsbad Caverns National Park contain sites with exceptional natural beauty. The park's most famous cave, Carlsbad Cavern, is over 1,000 feet deep and currently contains 30 miles of mapped passages. The Big Room of Carlsbad Cavern is the largest under- ground chamber in the United States.

The elevators...
We arrived at the Registration Desk only a few minutes before our reserved tour was to begin. He quickly directed us to the elevator where a Ranger went over the rules. No touching the caves, none of it. If you want to see what it feels like, touch this rock... (They have a sample near the elevator). 
Next rule is, don't talk loud and don't remove anything from anywhere in the cavern. 
Take the elevator and when you get to the main room, 
a Ranger will be there to guide you through the tour. Have fun! 
We hopped in the elevator with little time to spare and weren't really thinking much about it.
Then the elevator started heading straight down, way down. 
Down to 757ft below the surface - and fast. 
We cleared our ears several times and before we knew it, the doors opened and we were way underground. With the quick descent, it didn't even give me time to get terribly anxious, but I was definitely starting to feel it. My heart is racing and it's quite cold. 

When you step off of the elevator, you know you are down deep into the cavern. 
The pressure is different and it's much cooler. 
But it's very interesting. There is even a gift shop area to buy shirts. 
Shopping in the cave? Yep. 

The ceiling near the elevator.

Switchbacks down to Kings Palace


As we go further down into the Cavern, the walls change, the ceilings change and it all looks very magical. 

The Kings Palace

Our Ranger Tour Guide takes us all around and through several areas of the caverns. He's a wealth of information about the formations and how many thousands of years these take to form. 
Some are still growing, some are not. 

Some look as though they are becoming a column. When a stalagmite grows and touches a stalactite, it becomes a column. These two never actually touch and then they stopped growing. 
Apparently, Ripley from Ripley's Believe it or Not was the one that pointed out that he didn't think they were actually touching. Someone finally got up on a ladder and yep, he was right. About 1/8" from touching. 

This white glossy area is still growing. The one just behind it has stopped growing. Sometimes they grow so much they touch either the ceiling or the floor and sometimes they grow only a small amount and just create a small bump.
Columns = When the two touch each other, they create a column.

Drapes are the wide areas that look like sheeting. 

The formations in each room were different. The strategic lighting certainly adds to the affect. 

The two look as if they have grown together and created a column, but they are actually about 1/8" from touching, then stopped growing. 

Some of it looks like hollow bones. 

This looks like wrinkled skin

This formation was in the dark. We are lighting it up with a flashlight to take a pic. 
I like the effect of it. 

More drapes

Apparent thousand year old bat bones. I can't really see them, but they are there. 

Love the look of all of this stringy stuff. 

I wonder why some of it grows in this manner. So cool. Our Ranger is talking more about the forms and how long this takes, etc. 

Michael - from Down Under...

An 8 feet deep pool of water. 

These pools of water contain all kinds of bacteria. It rains up top and it can take several years for the water to finally get down here. Some are researching this water for cancer healing properties. 

Mom and Michael down Under
We've had a great time. I'm proud of myself for being able to go down into the caverns. I have only successfully done this twice now. There have been many more times that I wasn't able to do it. 
I'm glad Michael has enjoyed it, although after 1.5 hours, he's ready to go back up top too. 

What's up bru? Peace

And boom. Just like that we are back outside. This list he view from the top of the hill by the entrance to the Caverns.

At Nearby Cactus Cafe. We thought we would go there for a quick bite to eat. 
Poor service and mediocre food. Their google review wasn't stellar, that's for sure, but we ate enough to get us back on the road headed to ABQ. And got to pose by another alien, of the silver variety. 

Now to make the LOOOONG drive back to Albuquerque. We fly back home in the morning. 
There are several different ways to go and other detours we could make, but we are ready to get home and are choosing the direct route. It's still going to be a long drive, especially since we have already driven 3.5 hours to get here. A long day of driving for sure. 

We saw quite a few trains on our drive back to ABQ

And in just a couple of days, we put a lot of miles on our little Hyundai Accent. 

One fun thing about New Mexico is that you can drive for miles and miles and it only costs $20 to fill up your car! 

You certainly don't see prices like this in California! 

Well, we are headed home tomorrow...
We have seen and done some totally new things here in New Mexico. 
Every state we visit has something different to offer. 
From Balloon rides to movie sets, horses, caves and aliens, you can't ever have imagined doing so many things over the course of a few days. 

I'm glad we were able to travel here this summer, 
but I don't think either of us are eager to come back to New Mexico.