Tag: newmexico

Throwback Thursday Travels: Exploring the Big Room at Carlsbad Caverns

So another #throwbackthursdaytravel page is now live under the travels tab: Exploring the Big Room at Carlsbad Caverns.

One of the many formations within the Big Room

I actually meant to get this page up and going several years ago after the trip to New Mexico, as it was going to be part of the New Mexico travel section (an side note–I haven’t added any type of organizational pages to the travel section, but it has been an idea that has been bouncing around in my head). But once we got back from vacation, work dominated everything else, and it kept getting pushed further down the to-do list.

Well, the page is up and running now. We only spent about a half of day within the park, and most of that was spent taking the natural entrance trail down to the Big Room:

Looking towards the natural entrance trail

The natural entrance trial is a little over a mile straight down, though it curves at times and has a very steep descent. If you have breathing or heart problems–there is also an elevator within the visitor’s center that will take you down to the Big Room as well.

Once within the Big Room, there is a little over a mile trial that you can follow around the cavern (start at the ‘exit’ from the natural entrance trail and you can either end up back at the trail or at the concession stand/elevator area). We spent probably a total of three hours entering, and then exploring the Big Room:

Another view within the Big Room

There are also numerous trails that you can hike on the surface within the park. They do have a list of essentials that one should have within their backpacks for hiking listed on their site. We only did the shortest hike (basically a half mile round trip) on the way out of the park, but did stop at another trail head to get some pictures.

Since there wasn’t much hiking to be done–most of the pictures I got on this trip were of the cavern, though I did mange to get several pictures of various desert wildflowers. There are also numerous mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and insects found within the park as well. We didn’t really spot any–but we did hear the rattlesnake a time or two.

Red flowers on very sharp branches

Have you ever been to Carlsbad Caverns? Was your time spent around the caves or did you hike one of the trails? Which one, and did you spot any wildlife?

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Day trip to Carlsbad Caverns

Spent several hours at Carlsbad Caverns yesterday.  With getting into the caverns there are two ways of doing it–the elevator (which will take you down the 750 feet into the heart of the caverns), or you can walk in. The walk in is a little over a mile of winding down into the caves through the natural entrance of the cave (which has a small amphitheater in front of it, as this is also where the bats fly out come night fall). We walked in through the natural entrance, which was winding down through the caves and seeing numerous different formations. Then once we were in the main cavern–it was about another mile and a half path around that room.

Rock Formation that looks like an animal

One of the formations looked like either a rabid mole, or some other type of animal. Or at least I’m seeing something’s fangs and claws in the rock formation.

Ceiling within the caves

There were numerous people who were hiking quickly through the cave, if to say “I hiked through the caverns”. Having this mentality had them missing a lot of scenery–such as the ceiling. You could stop just about anywhere in the cavern and look up at the ceiling and see the spectacular formations hanging from the ceilings.

Popcorn column

There were also numerous columns that looked like they were covered in an almost popcorn like mosaic. There were columns that looked similar, but there were also columns that looked nice and sharp, but others were smooth and round.

Old man sitting

Then there was this structure that looked either like an old man sitting or an rocky “groot”.

The hike throughout the main cavern was almost unearthly, there were different formations throughout the entire the cave. There were also little pools of water throughout the cavern, and water dripping off the ceiling (no guano droppings in the main cavern), and then there were deep pits and pools that if you looked down–all you will see is pitch black (I tried to take a picture, and it is all black–because you can’t see the bottom, and there is no light to illuminate the bottom).

There are numerous things that one can do at the park. There is of course the main cavern, that you can walk through at your own pace (which you can enter through either the elevator or walking in through the natural entrance). There are also guided tours that you can sign up for. I’d though of doing one–but with going on the weekend there are only two that are offered–and you have to be there at least thirty minutes before the tour is suppose to happen. I didn’t make it on one–because (1) I was walking through the main cavern, and (2) didn’t know how long the tour would last (they last basically about 5 1/2 hours). So now that I know the time frame for doing an guided tour, next time I come–I may try to get on a guided tour and see some of the other caverns that you can’t see on your own.

Other things include going on the loop drive. This is an nine and a half mile drive (Walnut Canyon Desert Drive) that takes you through the mountains. We didn’t see any wildlife (though there was the telltale sound of a rattlesnake at the rattlesnake canyon overlook). There were flowers and numerous other things flowering, and towering mesas (or small mountains). We saw swallows, and the occasional insect buzzing through quickly (I think there were one or two small butterflies).

There were hiking paths, throughout the area (but with the temperatures and the fact that one of the paths was called rattlesnake canyon trail–I didn’t try to hike any of them this time around). There was another drive that one could do–you had to leave the park, drive south a little, and then get on an unpaved trail to the slaughter canyon cave (and there were two hiking trails that headed off from there)–we didn’t do this one–again, something to try to do next time down to the caverns.

The park is something that one can be done within a day (if you just do the main cavern and maybe the walnut canyon desert drive). I’d like to try an hike on one of the trails (but would need to make sure that I had everything one would need to for hiking through a desert/arid area).

Loved the park, and would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a national park to visit, and one especially if you enjoy an geological unique area.

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Going through the White Sands National Monument

So on our way to Carlsbad Caverns, we did a side trip to the White Sands National Monument.

The White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico is comprised of great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand and is host to numerous different plants and animals.

       White Sands National Monument

This national monument, is almost unearthly when you’re either driving through or getting out to take a small hike to get some pictures. Above I manged to capture some of the swirling sand behind a couple of dunes. Climbing the dunes was interesting (though I think I managed to get quite a bit of sand accidentally in my sneakers–one drawback of having shoes that have the “holes” in them for your feet to breath).

                Lizard at White Sands

In regards to wildlife that if found within the boundaries of the monument–most of them are either nocturnal, or they live within the scrub areas (and those are usually the rattlesnakes, and I heard one already–didn’t really need to see one). There are suppose to be mice, and foxes, and there were also different lizards that also call this place home.

Above is the bleached earless lizard. This lizard is related to other “earless” lizards, but adapted to the region of the white sands–it is extremely pale (we almost missed seeing this guy run across the ground). It was unusual to see them during the day (usually seen in the morning near the boardwalk), but we saw this guy out in the dunes.

                 Gypsum centaury

There were several different plants, that I also managed to get some pictures of. One of them (above) was this beautiful pinkish flower on this one plant. That plant turned out to be gypsum centaury, and while they are usually found around springs or streams, but can also be found in the interdunal area (or the low areas between the dunes).

                   Yellow flowers

Here is another picture of another plant, that had bright yellow flowers. I’m still in the process of trying to identify this plant. Other plants included species of yucca, and grasses.

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