Carlsbad Caverns National Park
“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” -Joseph Campbell
We visited Carlsbad Caverns National Park on a warm day in June. Nice thing about a cave...they are always cool! Carlsbad Caverns is hidden beneath the surface of the Chihuahuan Desert. It was formed when sulfuric acid dissolved limestone leaving behind more than 119 caverns ranging in size. We arrived at the park around lunch time, so we had a picnic close to the parking lot before heading into the visitor center.
In the visitor center you can find hands-on exhibits, a 16-minute park film, gift shop, and bookstore. It is also in the visitor center that you would pay your park entrance fee. We Quest for Adventure Tip: If you have a 4th Grader you can get a pass that gets your family into the National Parks for free (just for their 4th grade year). It just so happened that our son was in 4th Grade! So we were able to take advantage of the program for that school year.
There are several options for guided cave tours, but the really cool thing about Carlsbad Caverns is that you can explore the cave on your own. We loved this idea and spent about 3 hours down in the cave. We entered the cave through the Natural Entrance Trail. The trail is 1.25 miles of descending switchbacks and passageways that take you to the start of the Big Room Trail. There is also an elevator in the visitor center that you can take down to the start of the Big Room Trail. We opted to do this on our way out of the cave.
There is an underground rest area that is located at the base of the elevators. You will find restrooms, water fountains, and what still remains of the Underground Lunchroom. They stopped serving hot meals some time ago, because serving hot meals in the lunchroom was changing the ecological balance in the cave. But you can still get a small selection of pre-made cold food options. We took a break at one of the lantern lit tables, enjoyed some cold water, and imagined what it would have been like back in 1928 to say you had lunch 750ft underground. After the short break it was off to explore the Big Room. The Big Room is the largest cave chamber in the United States. The 1.25 mile trail takes you around the outer edge of the chamber.
After we finished exploring the magnificent Big Room, which Will Rogers once called the “Grand Canyon with a roof on it”, we hopped on the elevator that took us back up to the visitor center. Our kids thought the 1-minute elevator ride from 750 ft underground was a cool addition. And that brought us to the end of our afternoon at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. After spending a little more time in the Visitor Center, we headed back to our KOA camping cabin. We love cave exploration! And this one is at the top of our list.
We will definitely try and visit this national park again when we can spend a little more time exploring. Maybe even try one of the guided cave tours. Thanks for following along on our adventure!