Carlsbad Caverns National Park | 45/59

As we drove into Carlsbad Caverns National Park, we were greeted by friendly sheep munching on cacti like nobody’s business.  I don’t really understand, do they just have crazy tough tongues?  Or do they just love cactus that much they don’t care that they are getting poked?  Kind of like how Cees says he can eat Captain Crunch until his mouth bleeds.  He claims he learned that from his dad though.

Unfortunately, we got to the park too late that day and the cave was already closed. So, we headed to the BLM land just outside of the park and set up camp. Awesome BLM land is our jam. We love free camping just about anywhere we can get it.

Cees fulfilled his lifelong cowboy dream of making a fire with buffalo chips. We only had cow chips, (or at least that was our guess) but it totally worked!

It was really fun being out in the BLM by ourselves, enjoying the quiet, desert air and a nice fire for once. To be honest, we really don’t camp in nature as much as we thought we would on this trip. It’s easier in the west where BLM and national forest land is everywhere, but out east and in the south our only options were pretty much Walmart, Lowe’s, and Cracker Barrel parking lots.

What is it about a fire that is so mesmerizing?

The next morning, we woke up to rain and clouds, which normally would make for a pretty sad day in the park, but luckily we were headed underground!

This is the natural entrance to the cave. We opted for the free self-guided tour. If you choose, you can take the winding, steep 1.25-mile path down about 750 feet into the earth to the caverns’ famous “Big Room” (or you can take an elevator down and back up when you’re finished).

At the natural entrance, visitors who come May through October can also experience the Bat Flight program. We were legitimately bummed that we missed this. Apparently, you can sit and watch as hundreds of thousands Brazilian Free-tailed bats exit the cave at dusk on their nightly forage for food. SO COOL! As we were walking down, we actually saw one single bat flying around. Haha. ONE bat, out of the hundreds of thousands that normally live there. I hope that little one didn’t get left behind!

As we descended into the caverns, it felt like we were slowly transported to another planet.  Seriously, the treasures of Earth are INCREDIBLE and diverse. I couldn’t believe that this all exists underneath the desert ground that we walked above.

It seemed impossible to capture the intricate cave decor in a way that does it justice. Everywhere we looked there was just so much to take in. Everything–the floor, the walls, the ceiling–was completely covered in countless different formations.

Here is Cees being creepy with some cave formations.

Also, once you get down into the cavern, it’s kinda weird, but there is a gift shop, a concession stand, a vending machine, bathrooms, and other informational exhibits. Don’t judge me, but it all reminded me of my Putt-Putt PC gaming days, the Putt-Putt Goes to the Moon one.

The trail around the Big Room is 1.25 miles and took us about an hour and a half to explore, because we kept stopping at every little thing. Seriously everyone, this place will suck you in. It’s mind blowing.

This is an old ladder that was used for cave exploration in the early days. I kinda felt like I was in an Indiana Jones movie. Which would be SO COOL.

Our favorite formations are the bacon rocks! Because c’mon, bacon!

Cees really likes to be creepy in these pictures haha.

I don’t have words to describe our Carlsbad Caverns experience. This was our 4th cave of our national park’s tour (Lehman Cave, Wind Cave, Mammoth Cave,  and then Carlsbad Caverns), and although each of the previous caves were different and fascinating in their own ways, we decided that Carlsbad Caverns is the best of all. It has the best features of the other caves and wraps it all into one place. We were blown away by the beauty, intricacy, history, and vastness of these caverns. I would DEFINITELY recommend everyone to go see it for yourselves. I am so grateful that the cave and all it’s inhabitants are protected in a way that preserves them, while also providing a way for us humans to explore, learn, and grow through respectful visiting. The NPS does an awesome job banking these two aspects.

7 Comments

  1. Kate King

    Agreed! Don’t miss Carlsbad even if you have to go way out of your way to experience those caves. I was the only person on our 4-Corners ride who had been there before and really pushed for us to include that site. They were so glad I did because it was one of the highlights of our entire 13,000 mile ride. We came out just in time for bat exit and a gorgeous thunderstorm. Wet ride! Very wet ride!! Fortunately, the motel back down in that historic little town had room for us.

  2. Oh HELL YESSSS PuttPutt Goes to the Moon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Necessary amount of exclamation points for that. What a funny part of my childhood, thanks for the reminder.

    Also, you mention PuttPutt and Indiana Jones in the same post, we should most def be friends.

  3. dawn from camano island

    This is stunning! Jim told me he’s seen Carlsbad Caverns & loved them! I’m thinking’ we should still put it on the list–I haven’t been there & his memory’s shot! ;o)

    I have loved–LOVED–national parks & mons forever & each new post is like a holiday for me. You’ve inspired me to buy a big ole stack of NP postcards (the very cool Ranger Doug ones) & I’m going to send each of the grands a postcard a week. Why not inspire the next generation of park lovers? So thanks for that. Happy trails!

    • Cees

      SO GOOD! Way to get out and inspire the next round of NP lovers! My grandma did the same with me! She got me a subscription to Ranger Rick and I grew up thinking that national parks were the number one coolest destination EVER. Go NPS!

      • dawn from camano island

        Thank you, Cees! I totally forgot about Ranger Rick!! Your gramma was a wise woman–look at what she got you two into!

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