This post is a day late.
We got an early start and arrived in Carlsbad around 2 or so. We got set up, ate, and then headed to the caverns.
We were here about 20 years ago or so but did not remember the incredible size of the main room. We're pretty sure the Park Service hasn't enlarged it so I guess we just don't remember. It was spectacular. We were both glad we took this detour on our trip.
Our Adventure Pass got us in for free or it would have been $15 each. We just love our geezer pass. After hiking the 1.25-mile loop inside the main room, we went to the visitor center and gift shop (naturally). The eighty-story elevator dumps you right out into 1 of 2 gift shops - how convenient.
From there we went to the amphitheater and waited for the “Bat Flight” where hundreds-of-thousands of bats leave the cave entrance all at the same time. During the wait, we were treated to a HUGE lightning and thunder show. I was really impressed with the NPS arranging that and even more impressed they got the show to stop just in time for the bats to leave the cave. I was a little disappointed they let us get some rain on us, though.
As the ranger was giving his presentation, the flight started. The bats came (went?) in waves. 1000’s at a time. The exodus lasted well into darkness which was about 40 minutes or so. They were still pouring out of the cave when we left. We knew that because you could hear the silent rumble of their wings which I compare to a very distant set of rapids or a distant fast flowing stream.
We both rate the afternoon and evening a 10 – it was just awesome. Carlsbad Caverns National Park is a must do even if that is not the primary destination of your trip.
A word of caution though: our campground was not able to get us in a day early because of the oil boom in the area. The camp host said that 92% of their spots are rented long-term to oil field workers. Oil management has all the hotel rooms in Carlsbad booked as well. So well-in-advance reservations are a must.
About the oil field workers: it was fun to see them returning to the RV park around 4 PM. I didn’t see any driving cars: they drive pickup trucks or bigger tow vehicles. On our way to the caverns, it was a long procession of pickups one after the other. It looked like a pickup truck commercial for the 3 major brands.
There are no pix with this post yet as we have 400 miles to go the next day, got back late again, and want to get an early start. There won’t be any pix of the bat flight as all electronic devices are required to be powered down. It appears electronics interfere with the bat’s sonar.
Maryann took a lot of pix inside the caverns but with low light and an inadequate lens… we’ll post the best we have.