February 19, 2012—If you want to see a really, really big hole in the ground—750 feet beneath the surface—visit Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico.
We were among the first visitors to the caves this morning. To get there, you have to traverse a mountain; the caves are at an altitude of about 4,400 fit—not as high as we have been in the last couple of days, but high enough. (I don’t like driving on mountain roads.)
Once at the caves you have two choices: to enter through the natural entrance, which requires a downhill walk of about a mile or more, or the elevator, which takes you down 754 feet in a matter of about one minute. We opted for the elevator.
A number of tours are available. Most people (we included) opt for the self-guided tour of the big room. It takes about one and one-half hours to go about the mile and a half circle. The path is easy to walk and is even wheel-chair accessible in most areas. There are some areas, however, that require climbing an incline. Fortunately, occasional benches are provided for resting.
For size, the caverns cannot be matched. For formations, I rate Mammoth Cave in Kentucky and Squire Boone Caves in southern Indiana much higher. The difference, I believe, is caused by how they were formed, with the caves in Kentucky and Indiana basically being formed by water seeping through the soil, just as sink holes are formed. (Sink holes are essentially caves without a roof.)
Although the formations were not as glorious as in other caves, it was well worth the time to take the tour.
I’ve included a number of pictures that do not do the caves justice. It is very difficult to take good photos in a dark environment.
Until next time,
Your Reluctant RoVer,