I went to visit my daughter in New Mexico this summer and our adventures took us to Carlsbad Caverns for the day. Now simply making it a day trip eliminated one possibility-the bat flight which happens at night. Maybe another time. I supposedly was to Carlsbad Caverns when I was about 5 years old, but I don’t really remember it. So this was an opportunity to spend some quality time with my daughter. If you plan on taking any of the really special tours, be sure to check out the website ahead of time and make your reservations. We got what we wanted, though.
I had checked ahead of time, so I wore my socks and closed toe tennis shoes, grabbed a jacket and took a bottle of water-as well as the camera and phone for pictures. Once you check in at the top (I was surprised that we actually drove up on top to go down), then you have a choice. You can either walk down through the natural entrance or take the elevator. Coming back out, you have the same choice. Since there was absolutely no way I would be walking out the 1.2 miles, I knew we would be going down when we entered. The average cave temperature is in the 50’s and we didn’t get down far, before we left the desert southwest heat behind. I had also seen somewhere that it is up to a 20% grade in places when you are walking down. We also chose to take one of the talking wands that would give us specific information at certain spots throughout the adventure. So down and down and down we went, getting cooler and cooler with every traverse of the walkway. It also got humid feeling quickly, but it wasn’t uncomfortable and I actually never did put my jacket on.
The ever changing scenery in the cave was amazing. We also occasionally would come upon locked entrances to some of those other longer tours that we would not be taking. We also passed several of the park rangers walking out as we descended further down into the cave. I finally asked one of the rangers if they were required to walk up. She shared with me that yes, they were required to walk out and police, clean up as they went. Since I had already decided to get back into photography, and had heard that pictures were better without a flash.
I was ready. I was so pleased that the smart phone automatically does so much when it comes to pictures. I didn’t even need to adjust anything, it automatically did it for me. The pictures came out great I thought. It would be fun to compare them to the guy who had the really expensive camera and was using a tripod to take pictures. I have found after this summer’s trips, that my smart phone actually captures great pictures without my messing with it. It also does better than my digital camera, which takes longer to “capture” it when on the smart setting. What a difference a couple of years makes, when it comes to technology.
Once we were down to the main cave, it was 1.25 miles to walk all the way around it. There was a lot more to see than I thought there would be. The ever changing different things to see included, stalagmites, stalagmites, draperies and many more. There wasn’t much water down there, but we learned there was a reason for that. If I remember right, part of it is because the visitor’s center and parking lot sit on top of it, so there aren’t as many ways for water to get down there. I was very intrigued with how they got all of the lighting done in the cave sections. Most of it wouldn’t have taken a rocket scientist, but there were places that I know someone dangling from a very long rope was installing lighting elements.
It truly was wonderous, and both my daughter and I enjoyed our time there. I would definitely go back again, if other family members wanted to do the trip. It did involve about 3 hours of driving to go and return to where my daughter lives. I do have one piece of advice for that hike down though. Trim any long toenails before you put on your socks and shoes. The grade was steep enough and my toes kept pushing into the toe part of my shoes with a lot of pressure. By the time I got to the bottom, my toes were very sore. A month and half later, I still have little black bruise lines going across my toenails. That really is the only negative from the trip. Thunderstorms were intermittent while we were on the road, so the less exciting landscapes were transformed into more memorable sequences, including torrential downpour.