Carlsbad Caverns National Park was on our list in Christmas 2018 as we headed west from visiting Shelby in Houston.
Coming north from Big Bend National Park, we intended to hit Guadalupe Mountains National Park and then continue on the short distance to Carlsbad.
The weather deteriorated as we moved north, and by the time we hit Guadalupe it was a full-on ice storm. We quickly hit the eject button, and continued on our way to Tucson.
The caverns and Guadalupe are on our crazy last-minute trip, with nothing to stop us this time.
We’ve seen a lot of caverns across multiple continents, and these are without question the most impressive by far. If you only have time or interest to see one set of caverns in your life, these absolutely should be the ones. IMHO – YMMV of course.
Only 3 of the 119 caves within the Carlsbad Caverns are open to the public, the Big Room being the single-largest chamber in North America, and the 35th largest in the world. Walking through here is just one non-stop wow after another. 120 miles of the cave system has currently been mapped, and mapped to a depth of 1,600 feet.
One tidbit – make sure you take the Natural Entrance and do the 750 vertical descent into the caverns on foot. If you take the elevator down you will miss half the show.
Another very cool feature of the caverns is the large amount of bats that live in them. From April to November you can watch from sunset on as hundreds of thousands of them emerge and spiral their way up into the sky to find food and water before returning before dawn. This nightly column of bats flooding out is how the caverns were originally discovered. Unfortunately we’re here too early for this, but I don’t think Colette really minds all that much…

Pod Wuz Here

Pod Wuz Here
The mandatory entrance sign photo


Natural Entrance

Natural Entrance
This must have been something to stumble across in the 1800s!


Looking Back

Looking Back
It’s nice that you can come down this way and take the elevator back up the 750 feet!


Whales Mouth

Whales Mouth
I can see the resemblance to the baleen in a whale’s mouth.


Playground

Playground
This looks like a playground to me.


Pillars

Pillars
So many formations, so many different kinds.


Daggers

Daggers
Not something you want to walk underneath.


Star Wars

Star Wars - Carlsbad Caverns
These formations look like characters from Star Wars.


The Big Room

The Big Room
It’s called The Big Room for a reason.


A Little Perspective

A Little Perspective
You can see the person on the lower left taking a photo of the Rock Of Ages with their phone – that’s how massive these formations are!


Waterfall

Waterfall - Carlsbad Caverns
So. Much. Cool. Stuff.


Soda Straws

Soda Straws
Good luck winding your way through here!


Dolls Theater

Dolls Theater - Carlsbad Caverns
I can see how the Dolls Theater formation got it’s name – I can just picture marionettes dancing inside this cove.