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Carlsbad Caverns National Park

 

Carlsbad Caverns is listed as the eighth wonder of the world.  It has been designated as a world heritage location.  It isn't the biggest cavern or the longest but it is the most amazing place.  As you walk down the many switchbacks from the natural entrance you are grateful for the paved, lighted trail rather than descending in mining buckets or ladders.  Jim White, one of the first explorers of the caverns fashioned his own ladder out of wire and sticks and used a coffee pot with kerosene for his lamp.  There is also an elevator for those who want to avoid the steep path down.  The lighting is kept to a low level to keep animals out and also to make it a cave-like experience.  At one location it is noted that the bat cave is over in another part of the cave.  During spring and summer a cloud of bats depart the cavern nightly. 

The Big Room, as big as 14 football fields is a wonder at every turn.  There are some named features like the Whale's Mouth and the Lion Tail.  You can use your imagination for many more.  You can take your time walking these paths but you might need a brisk pace if you haven't dressed for the constant 58 degree temperature.

There a several guided ranger tours.  We saw one tour going down to the lower cavern.  We took the tour of the Kings Palace.  A very big chamber with much decoration.  We went into the Queens Chamber and Papoose room.  The ranger turned all the lights out in one room and told us to enjoy the view.  Several movies have been filmed in the Kings Palace area.  Journey to the Center of the Earth was filmed there. 

There is also a lunch room and gift shop at 750 feet below the ground.  Everyone must return to the top using the elevators and it is sometimes surprising to return to the top and find the weather has changed.

We were underground for over 4-1/2 hours and decided that exploring Carlsbad Caverns is a wonderful experience.  You can find several photos by clicking on this Carlsbad Photograph Album link.  We found it difficult to get good pictures.  If the feature was more than 30 feet away the flash light fades before it gets there.  On the other hand, to use the night shot feature of the camera you really must have a tripod because the time exposures will cause blurriness.