We hiked over five miles throughout the caverns-while 750 feet under the Earth's surface.
January 19th, 2018
Brad and I were originally intending to visit Hueco Tanks and Pecos River in Texas and go climbing for a few days, but since Brad's hand was sliced open... climbing was not an option.
We decided that Carlsbad Cavern National Park was going to go on the agenda instead. I had several people tell me it was worth visiting so after we caught the sunrise at the White Sand Dunes National Monument, we booked it to get to the park in time.
First off, the road we took to get to the caverns from the sand dunes was pretty remote but often traveled by tourists during the summer-time high season. There were a lot of little touristy-traps along the way. We got suckered into stopping at a petting zoo that had a zebra AND apple cider! (Side note: the apple cider tasted like kool-aide and I got sick from it.) Learn from my mistakes and don't be fooled by the apple cider shops. However, the land that we traveled through in that part of New Mexico was absolutely stunning! There were lots of farms, forests, and little rivers.
We got to the Caverns in time to purchase a self-guided tour pass. We descended into the Cavern and spent the entire 750 foot descent "OOOOing" and "AWWWWing," and a little bit of wimpering because we were still pretty sore from the hot springs hike the day prior. The sights inside of the cave were absolutely surreal, however, I couldn't stop myself from imagining and wishing I could have seen it before it became so tame. The entire trail was paved and lit and there were handrails on both sides the entire way down. I felt like I was walking the lines through a themed-disneyland ride. But on the other hand, it would have been a much more gnarly hike and it wouldn't have been as accessible for the majority of the public if the trail was not kept up like it was. I was also pretty grateful for that elevator that shot us up to the top at the end!
At the bottom of the trail there was an old restaurant that is now a little gift shop and snack bar. I would imagine that place would have been hopping if we had gone there during high-season, but since I was "only" the 300th person to descend into the caverns that day it was pretty empty. Brad and I hiked every trail that we were allowed to hike which took about two hours. When we were done we conveniently rode the elevator up, where we resurfaced in the Visitor's Center.
I feel like my account of exploring the cave is pretty boring. But I am extremely intrigued by the wonders of the cavern and all that is left unexplored and to be discovered. Here are some highlights from what I learned:
Carlsbad Cavern National Park was pretty amazing and I am glad that I got the chance to go and see it. However, like I always do, I left saying things like... "If I come back again, I'm going to go caving and explore more of the caverns." But that's just me ;)