Thursday, July 22, 2010

Carlsbad Caverns

We stayed a place that promised internet access - it had none. We searched for some in the town of Carlsbad - no luck. McDonald's said they had it but they were long on promise and short on internet. So we gave up on that and headed for Carlsbad Caverns.

On the drive to the caverns we passed many oil wells. They give off a really bad odor, something we had not noticed in California last year. They smell either like sulfur, gas or burning tires, take your pick.

The caverns are in the foothills of the Guadalupe Mountains. When we got to the caverns we all thought that the view to the east, back towards Texas, looked like the view of the ocean - except that there was no water. Later, in the caverns, we found out that it was an ancient sea.

Carlsbad Caverns are different than most caverns because they are only a few million years old. They were made from a stronger
acid than the acid that carves most caves. We first took a tour guided by a park ranger. It was quite cold 750 feet underground and after almost two hours down there we were ready to come up for lunch.
After lunch we bought sweatshirts and headed back down for the self guided part of the cavern.

In the 1890s Jim White, a 16 year-old cowboy, discovered the caverns because he saw hundreds of thousands of bats flying out of a hole in the ground one evening. He saw it was a cave, went home, made a home made ladder, created a kerosene lamp out of a coffee pot, and decided to go back and explore the caves. In the afternoon we walked down into the caverns through the route that Jim White had found. The smell of bat dung (guano) was nearly overwhelming. But once past the bat area of the cave it was quite an interesting and rigorous walk. We saw some huge areas with ceilings over 200 feet high. Pictures could not capture the beauty (although Beverly tried her best). We lingered in the caverns looking at all of the interesting things. We stayed for another three hours in what was suppose to be a ninety minute self-guided tour.

We took the girls to a waterpark at the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns Park for a little over an hour, then came back into the park to see the bats fly out of the cave at dusk.

Ranger Rick gave a talk about bats then we began to see them fly out of the cave.
It lasted about half an hour. The rangers kicked everyone out of the park by 9:00 PM. We drove back to the town of Carlsbad, gave the internet another try at McDonald's (failed again), then went to bed.


  1. We did the San Antonio - Carlsbad link the opposite way from you. There really isn't much out there in W. Texas besides oil pumps. I drove that stretch and got so used to NO traffic signals that I ran a red light when I got to Carlsbad and almost creamed a Ford F150. Nice! Pete didn't let me drive again for a couple weeks. Loved the caverns though - they really are unique. What kind of hotel did you end up in?

  2. We were at the Continental Inn. It was a motel, which is all that seemed to be available in this part of Carlsbad.

  3. ooo, the caves look so pretty!