Posted by: Cross Country Couple | September 13, 2008

Day 35 … Carlsbad Caverns National Park

After a great night’s sleep in the tent, we packed up the camping gear around 6:30 AM.  The Carlsbad Caverns National Park was only an hour and a half from the picnic area, so Matt and I made a stop at a Park Information Center to get ready for the day. 

Danielle and Matt at the entrance to the Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Danielle and Matt at the entrance to the Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

 

When we arrived at the Carlsbad Caverns Visitor’s Center, we looked around the gift shop and used the National Park Pass to gain free access to the self-guided park of the cave.  The self-guided park of the cave included a 750’ decent into the cave, a 1.1 mile walk around the Big Room, and unlimited elevator access.  We ate a quick breakfast of Cinnamon Raisin bagels and cream cheese before making our way to the natural entrance of the cave.  The cave had the distinct smell of bat guano as we started our decent.  The Carlsbad Cavern is home to nearly 500,000 Mexican Freetail Bats.  Every night around 6:30 PM, visitors are invited to sit quietly in the amphitheater at the cave’s entrance to watch the half million bats exit the cave in a frenzy to find food. 

 

The natural entrance to the cave at the Carlsbad Caverns National Park.  The amphitheater is use every night for guests who come to watch the thousands of bats leaving the cave in search of food.

The natural entrance to the cave at the Carlsbad Caverns National Park. The amphitheater is use every night for guests who come to watch the thousands of bats leaving the cave in search of food.

 

With the exception of drops of water, the cave was nearly silent.  The Ranger asked us to keep all noises to a whisper as we toured the cave.  Occasional artificial spotlights featuring foreign rock formations were our only source of light.  As we toured the cave, we admired the Stalactites hanging from the ceiling, Stalagmites growing up from the cave floor, and many other impressive structures. 

 

 

Matt standing by a Stalagmite in the Carlsbad Cavern.

Matt standing by a Stalagmite in the Carlsbad Cavern.

Matt and Danielle on the path ileading nto the heart of the cave.

Matt and Danielle on the path leading nto the heart of the cave.

 

The decent into the heart of the cave took just over an hour.  When we reached the bottom, we decided to check out the snack bar and head back up the elevator to find some lunch.  After eating, we took the 75 story elevator back down into the cave to explore the Big Room.  The Big Room is one of the largest single rooms in a cave in the western hemisphere stretching nearly 600,000 square feet.  In the Big Room, we took note of the Chandelier (a formation of Stalactites in the center of the room), the Giants (a group of three huge domes), the Bottomless Pit, and many other features.  On our way out of the park, Matt spotted a tarantula crossing the road.  Of course, we stopped and got a few pictures of the giant spider. This photo show the Stalactites and Stalagmites with the popcorn formations covering them.

 

A great view of some of the Stalactite and Stalagmite formations in the cave.

A great view of some of the Stalactite and Stalagmite formations in the cave.

Matt and Danielle standing by one of the large Stalagmite formations in the Big Room of the cave.

Matt and Danielle standing by one of the large Stalagmite formations in the Big Room of the cave.

 

 

 

One of the huge dome formations in the cave at the Carlsbad Caverns Naitonal Park.

One of the huge dome formations in the cave at the Carlsbad Caverns Naitonal Park.

As we left the Caverns, Matt noticed this huge wild Tarantula crossing the road.

As we left the Caverns, Matt noticed this huge wild Tarantula crossing the road.

 

It was about 2:00 PM before we were back on the road again.  We made our way into Texas where we hit a rain storm for the first time since Pennsylvania.  To our surprise, the speed limit in Texas was 80 MPH!  We drove for hours until we reached San Antonio.

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