The Carlsbad Caverns
Deep Below New Mexico
By: Astrid Hiemer - 05/27/2010
The Carlsbad Caverns were recommended to us as a destination on our second “See America” tour. We drove 3000 miles to have the experience. They are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We had spent the night in Carlsbad, New Mexico, and drove south on highway 62/180, approx. 20 miles, to reach the Carlsbad Caverns National Park. The park actually contains 116 caves, but Slaughter Canyon Cave is the only other one open to the public.
A tour on foot, hiking for 3.5 hours and up to 750 feet deep, leads through several rooms: King’s Palace, Queen’s Chamber, the New Mexico Room, and the Big Room or the Hall of the Giants, and others.
In the evening one can return to the Amphitheatre to experience the nightly bat flights. Several species of bats live in caves, which are not accessible to the public. The Mexican Free-Tailed Bats are most numerous and tens of thousands of bats go on a nightly tour.
We, however, chose the one minute elevator ride to the commercial area of the Big Room, 750 feet below the entrance. Parts of the way are wheelchair accessible and the walk ways are lined with railings. This huge lime stone space is 4000 ft. long, 600 ft. wide and max. 350 ft. high. The room is dark and only specific areas are spot lit. We walked for about an hour through fantasy land and a most spectacular landscape. The stone formations from above, sideways, along the ground and from the pit, made our imagination as well as our bodies wander. What a landscape way below the surface of the earth!