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by Chris & Carinne
July 24, 2010
From journal National Parks Tour
Moreno Valley, California
May 1, 2009
From journal August in Albuquerque
March 14, 2004
Once you are ready to start your tour, you will take an elevator deep into the earth to the level of the caverns. You can choose as you take the tour how long you want to go because there is a route for a short tour and a continuation route for a long tour. My wife is afraid of heights, so we only toured the Big Room. It had a large variety of formations and they were many colors. At some points, the trail through the cavern came to some fairly high drop-offs, but my wife held to me and was able to get past them. The inside of the cavern has a pretty good artificial lighting system, but it could be better.
We really enjoyed the tour; however, I would recommend a tour of Natural Bridge Caverns north of San Antonio, TX. The cave is not nearly as big as the big one at Carlsbad, but it has some beautiful formations. I thought the color and variety of the Natural Bridge formations were better.
From journal Tour of Carlsbad, New Mexico Caverns
Spring Valley, California
September 23, 2003
The caverns encompass vast caves, both developed and undeveloped. The main chamber -- "Big Room" -- is the most accessible (even to wheelchairs). Measuring 1800 feet by 1000 feet, with the ceiling in some spots reaching to nearly 300 feet, "Big Room" is aptly named. The walkway wends around the perimeter of the chamber, revealing exotic sights both minute and grand.
Glittering calcite stalactites dripping from the ceiling, popcorn-like rocks covering the ground, the enormity of it all dwarfing you . . . words can't capture the awe one feels.
The most surreal aspect of the experience for me was the uncanny feeling that I was underwater. Gazing up at arching ceilings, looking down on formations reminiscent of coral reefs, following the undulating currents of the path, perceiving the not-unpleasant sensation of being enclosed, I could not help but feel I was scuba diving through some fantastic undersea landscape.
From journal 750 Feet Under
, Virginia, Turkey
September 6, 2003
We arrived late and only had the self-guided tour of the Natural Entrance and the Big Room, and it took us nearly 3 hours. If you have time and energy, the park rangers offer guided tours of other caverns for a fee. The brochure mentioned six different tours for various prices; however, I believe the most popular guided tour is the King's Palace for $8.
My brother and his wife visited the caverns a week before Labor Day and were able to tour till 7pm. However, when we visited right after Labor Day, the winter hours were observed and the last entrance to the Natural Entrance was at 2pm, to the King's Palace was at 2:30pm and to the Big Room was at 3:30pm. Both in the Natural Entrance cavern and the Big Room, rangers warned us to be swifter.
We had been in other caverns in Virginia, but none of them could compare to the Carlsbad Caverns. Not only was the size of the caverns enormous, but also, the lighting was very dim, which enhanced our experience. Even the entrance to the Natural Entrance was very impressive. From a big opening we entered the cave. The paved trail curved into the depths of the cavern. First we could see in natural light; later it was like dusk, and finally the only light available was the electrical lights. After 750 feet of descent, the cavern floor leveled and we entered the Big Room. The Big Room was big enough to have eight football fields in it! Although it had more lighting, it still had an overpowering atmosphere. I felt scared when we didn't see anyone for more than five minutes. I was tired and relieved when we ascended to ground level by the elevator. There is an "Underground Lunchroom" and restrooms in the caverns near the elevator.
At 6:30pm there was a special program "Bat Flight" in the amphitheater next to the entrance of the caverns. (This is from mid-May to mid-September. After September the bats migrate to Mexico.) A ranger gave a fun lecture on Mexican Freetailed Bats and answered our questions. It was very fun to watch the flight of the bats at dusk. There were nearly 30,000 bats roosting in the Carlsbad Caverns (no need to worry, the trails do not go under the bats). At dusk they leave the caverns and fly away to find food.
From journal Carlsbad : Gateway to the Enchanted Land
Los Angeles, California
January 17, 2002
Using our National Parks Pass once again, we got free admission. The price of admission without the pass is $8 per person. Since this was late in the year, there weren't many people there. We rented an audio guide for about $4 or $5. Whatever it cost, it was reasonable and enhanced our visit immensely.
You take an elevator down into the Caverns and begin your self-guided tour. There is only one trail around, so as you walk it and come to a point of interest, the audio-guide starts taking immediately. We used one guide between the two of us and could both hear it well by putting our heads together. Besides, it's more romantic that way.
Since there weren't many visitors, we found ourselves feeling very isolated at times. But it's quite safe and the beauty inside the caverns is awesome. It took us a good hour to make the big circle trail. The trails are also accessible to people in wheelchairs, but only in certain places. In some areas, it's too steep to hold onto a wheelchair and there are barriers to bar a wheelchar from entering these places.
Occassionally, a Park Ranger will come by in case anyone has questions. I asked if anyone ever tried to stay in the caverns at closing time. He replied that although some may try it, they make one final sweep through the caverns before turning off all the lights. It would be a lonely place to spend the night in the dark, and probably dangerous, too. The lighting in the cavern was designed by a Hollywood lighting firm and makes everything seem very dramatic.
There is also a kennel at the Visitor Center at the caverns, but as it was a cool day, we left our dog in the car. She napped.
And speaking of cool, it's about 55 degrees inside the caverns, so bring a sweater. It was well worth the drive here to see these beautiful caverns.
There is a viewing of the mass exodus of bats flying out of the cavern at dusk, but we were too tired to stay for that. I understand from one ranger than in Springtime, there are more bats than when we were there in the Fall.
More information is available here:
From journal California to New Mexico with my dog
by Bob New
March 2, 2001
The deeper you went into the cavern the more spectalur the formations became. You are allowed to use a flash inside the cavern now. I was using Kodak 800 Gold film and a 28-80 zoom lense. The lightning inside would allow a slower film but with the 800 speed I got good depth of field pictures.
The walk was cool but comfortable. It was an easy walk with steps and hand rails when needed. They say it takes 1-1/2 to 2 hours to do the trip. To enjoy it you need at least 3-4 hours. There is an elevator to take you down into the main cavern and to take you to the top if you choose to walk down. This is accessable to almost every age and should be enjoyed by all.
If you are more adventureious you can look into some of the other Caverns (Caves) in the park that are more technical. Check out the Park at www.ups.gov
From journal South Eastern New Mexico
Fort Worth, Texas
September 17, 2000
From journal New Mexico Roadtrip - SE New Mexico