Friday, September 24, 2010

755 Feet below the ground

At the northern end of the Guadalupe Mountains in New Mexico, and lying more than 750 feet below the surface of the ground, is Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Ansel Adams said that Carlsbad Caverns is “something that should not exist in relation to human beings. Something that is as remote as the galaxy, incomprehensible as a nightmare, and beautiful in spite of everything.”

Will Rogers called it the "Grand Canyon with a roof on it".

After taking the 75-story elevator down to the lunchroom area we began our self-guided tour of the Big Room.

A one-mile paved loop guided us around the perimeter of the natural limestone chamber. The appropriately named Big Room is roughly 8.2 acres in size, making it one of the largest chambers in the world. Put another way, you could fit almost 6.2 football fields within the chamber!

During our “hike” we encountered the most park rangers I’ve ever seen on one trail. Mainly to ensure that no one gets off course, or tries to damage or steal any part of the cave, the rangers were also there to answer any questions you might have along the way.

Even in the heat of summer you may want to take a jacket or sweater with you. The cave has a constant year-round temperature of 56 degrees.

Although the NPS did a great job on using front and back lighting to highlight the caves most interesting features and formations, I still had trouble getting good photos with my camera. Here are a couple of the better ones that turned out relatively decent:

Even Kathy, who doesn't particularly like caves, thought the tour was well worth it.

One other tidbit about the cave: More than a quarter million Mexican free-tailed bats spiral out of the Natural Entrance each evening during the warm months of the year in search of moths and insects. It’s one of the leading spectator attractions for many visitors.

By the way, if you suffer from chiroptophobia, or the fear of bats, don’t worry. Very few bats, if any, ever make it to the Big Room.

Jeff Detailed trail information for the Great Smoky Mountains; trail descriptions, key features, pictures, maps, elevation profiles, news, books and more.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Carlsbad Caverns is an awesome place to go. My favorite part was watching the bats leave the cave in the evening. Would love to go back again.