Tag: thingstodoinNewMexico

Whirlwind afternoon in the White Sands National Park

So the latest #throwbackthursdaytravel page is up under the travel tab. This week’s entry was our whirlwind afternoon in the White Sands National Park in southern New Mexico (though at the time it was still only a National Monument, it had been promoted to a National Park later).

Gypsum dunes with the mountains in the distance

This is actually the world’s largest gypsum dune field at 275 square miles. If you camp in the back country or hike any of the trails away from Dunes Drive, it is easy to see why parts of various movies (such as Independence Day) were filmed within the area, with rolling dunes and flat plains of gypsum as far as the eye can see.

While the dune field covers a large area, one doesn’t want to become ‘lost’ within it–especially since the park is also within the White Sands Missile Testing area and adjacent to a military base.

Our afternoon was spent basically taking the scenic drive through part of the park (the Dunes Drive is a round trip sixteen mile drive, but one should also account for time spent taking pictures, hiking up and down the dunes, and even possibly sledding down the dunes), hiking up some of the dunes and taking pictures.

Bleached earless lizard spotted within the park

While I may have only seen a single lizard, I was able to get pictures of several different wildflowers that are able to grow within the gypsum dunes:

Gypsum Centaury growing in the sands
Desert Mentzelia growing in the sands.

I would love to go back to the park, and actually try sledding down a dune, hiking a little further than what we did, and even trying to camp out in the back-country for a day or two.

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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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