Buried deep in the south east corner of New Mexico is a cool place to visit. (How many puns can I fit in that sentence?) Anyways, we took the opportunity to visit Carlsbad Caverns while traveling through New Mexico. After going down, we can definitely say that this is a must see. There are two ways to get into the caverns, one is the natural entrance, which we took, and the other is by riding an elevator from the visitor center down 850′. When we visited, the elevators were out of service, leaving only the natural entrance as the way in. Because of this, we feel that the crowds were lighter, which lent itself to a more crowd free visit.
To hike from the natural entrance to the rest area (where the elevators come down) is about 1.25 miles. The hike was not strenuous, but if you don’t pace yourself you definitely will regret it. Shortly after entering the cave mouth, you are greeted with the 54 degree air, which feels wonderful after being in the desert heat. Once you reach the rest area, where there is a snack stand and restrooms, you can branch off and tour the Big Room, which is a HUMONGOUS underground cavern. It doesn’t feel that large as you walk around it, but that is partly because your view is obstructed by the stalagmites and stalactites throughout the room. The walk around the Big Room is about 1.25 miles as well, but it is mostly flat.
We gave ourselves the whole day to tour the caverns, and that was a good choice. We didn’t feel rushed and were able to take our time and enjoy it.
Keeping in mind that it is pitch black in the caverns, any light is artificially produced. They have done a great job in creating the most natural and realistic lighting with LEDs, and I have done my best to color correct the photos to best represent our experience.