Carlsbad Caverns National Park: An Interlude

I woke up the next day very sore with some actual pain so I decided not to hike The Bowl, instead calling intermission and heading 40 miles away for a day trip to Carlsbad Caverns. It was a good call. I mean, I would have got there eventually, but in addition to be an easy day of strolling, the cave was somewhere around 60 degrees with 100% humidity and I got to thaw out from the chilly nights. The Caverns were formed from acidic groundwater leaching into the limestone bedrock and carving out large chambers beneath ground. The caverns are a part of the same range as the Guadalupe Mountains; both were originally a part of the Permian Reef under a shallow sea that was uplifted over 60 million years ago by tectonic activity. Because this area was originally a reef, marine fossils are plentiful and can be spotted both the 1,000 feet below the ground in the cave and at the peak of Guadalupe Peak. I’d show you a picture here, but I neglected to take any, sorry.

Once I arrived at Carlsbad I hiked the 700 feet down from the natural entrance and spent quite a few hours amongst the most fantastical formations I had never thought existed. The self-guiding tour, once you come down from the natural entrance, highlights the Big Room, an approximately 4,000 by 625 foot room with ceilings up to 255 feet. My camera, and camera-skills, do not excel in low light areas, but I managed to capture some sense of these incredible formations growing inside the subterranean limestone chambers; please trust me though that these pictures fall very short in showing the stunning realities of the cave.

Stalactites and popcorn formations, Big Room, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

Stalactites and popcorn formations, Big Room, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

Lion’s Tail, Big Room, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

Lion’s Tail, Big Room, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

The largest speleothems in the cave – the Hall of Giants, Big Room, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

The largest speleothems in the cave – the Hall of Giants, Big Room, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

I also took the guided King’s Palace Tour, which featured a few highly-adorned chambers that are only visible from the tour. It was completely worth it.

Draperies and stalactites in King’s Palace, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

Draperies and stalactites in King’s Palace, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

King’s Palace, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

King’s Palace, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

Queen’s Chamber, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

Queen’s Chamber, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

Green Lake drip pool, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

Green Lake drip pool, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

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