Steve'sTravels2010/11 travel blog

 

Seasonal and Security staff housing.

The journey begins. This is just down from the Visitor Center.

This is the amphitheater where one would watch the bat flights. Cave...

Pretty ominous looking isn't it?

Yes, this is all going downhill. Could you imagine doing this without...

Early tours began with a 170 foot drop in a bucket, used...

And it continues to descend deeper into the cave.

Yep - still going down.

Soda straws - the beginning stages of a stalactite.

 

Stalagmite.

Close up. This represents probably several thousand years of deposits.

 

Another stalagmite.

Just pretty patterns.

This was the narrowest opening we passed through. Everywhere else it was...

The dimension here is difficult to see, but it is a fairly...

Another large passageway.

Some of the "decorations" as they call it.

Interesting stalagmite.

Closeup

The early cave explorer - Jim White - called these Fairies.

This was an actual ladder from early exploration days.

 

Just another opening.

 

 

 

 

You can make out the handrail in this one.

 

In lower left is a display sign. Gives some dimension.

When a stalagmite and stalactite meet, it becomes a column.

View from Visitor Center.

 

 

Road approaching Visitor Center. This was about 4 miles in from the...

Not something I'd want to walk through. Not real sure, this could...

Had to try a more authentic Mexican restaurant. Was very good -...

Parting shot for the day.


Going Down Under, so to speak.

Spelunking, anyone?? Having been in other caves in Oregon – like the lava tube near Bend, and the Oregon Caves – Carlsbad was very impressive, comparatively.

The first thing I noticed was that we were not required to take in any type of hand held lights, lanterns or head lamps. The Cavern is extremely vast – at least the public access part. There is a paved path with handrails throughout the journey, and they had a Hollywood lighting expert place lights in such a manner as to both help light the pathways – all with indirect lighting, as well as illuminate the “decorations” as they are called.

So, although the self guided public access area includes over 2 miles of pathway (a ranger guided tour includes an additional mile), there is sufficient lighting to get you through.

Visitors are warned, however, that the path takes you down 800 feet into the cavern, so it is still a bit of a hike to get there. And this happens fairly quickly, as you can see from the photos. Because of the nature of this descent, the park service requires that people take an elevator back up.

Speaking of photos, since the cave was lit just enough to see the path and a few features, I could not get a photo that showed the expansiveness of the cavern. The average ceiling height – only in my estimation – was somewhere in the 75-100 foot range. The greatest vertical distance between the cavern floor and ceiling is 370 feet, which occurs at Bottomless Pit – so named because early explorers could not see the bottom, due to inadequate lighting. And for what it’s worth, my photos do not do justice to what one really sees. So if you’re okay with being in a cave, it’s worth the trip.

Unfortunately, the Mexican free-tailed bats were not here yet, so I could not witness the great evening bat flight out of the cave. According to the info station, they don’t show up until April.

The Caverns area actually located near Whites City, NM, which is about 15 miles south of Carlsbad.

Some of the photos are unlabeled for your viewing pleasure.

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