The Land of Enchantment is kind of what I picture as homebase. As much as I HATED growing up in a small town in New Mexico, as an adult I’ve developed a soft spot for the empty space of desert and wind blown sunsets. (Check out my quick guide to The Guadalupe Mountains National Park for more New Mexico treasure).
The caverns has two entrances – the natural entrance and the main entrance located in the visitor center. If you want exercise, I suggest taking the elevator 700 feet below and then hiking out of the natural entrance. The entire trip is just unbelievably breathtaking, so I promise you’re muscles will be sufficiently distracted. For a lighter impact, you can take the natural entrance down into the caverns and the elevator up (or you can skip the natural entrance altogether).
The Big Room is where the pictures featured in this blog were taken. The trail is about a 1.5 mile loop with limited elevation gain and PLENTY of vignettes worth checking out. The lighting and trails were created by the best and brightest(including Ansel Adams), so you’ll find that the modern upgrades minimally distract from the natural beauty of the caves. There are audio tours included in the Big Room, and if it’s your first time visiting I suggest taking them up on the offer.
You can also take https://www.nps.gov/cave/planyourvisit/cave_tours.htm Since I had the privilege of growing up near the caverns, I’ve been on them all and they are so worth the fee. If you like taking a peak behind the curtain, The Lower Cave tour gives you a glimpse into the exploration of the Caverns, and an unbelievably eerie experience of being 750 feet below ground with NO LIGHTS for about 30 seconds.
Some tips for the caverns:
- The bat flight is definitely NOT what you’re thinking. The Carlsbad Caverns have an unbelievable amount of wildlife in them. Think a hundred times bigger than any bat flight you’ve seen before. It’s totally worth the early morning rise.
- Camp, book super far in advance, or stay in El Paso. Carlsbad is going through a HUGE oil boom right now, so you’ll be hard pressed to find a hotel room for less than $300 a night at even the lower end joints. The caverns are about a thirty minute drive out of town, so even if you do stay in Carlsbad, plan on a morning drive.
- EAT THE QUESADILLAS. Admittedly, I’m usually starving by the time I make it to the food court in the visitor center. But I’ve gotta say – the quesadillas they make are one of the only foods I ever order seconds on. Eat ’em up and enjoy!