New Mexico, Where We've Been

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

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Carlsbad Caverns National Park

For hundreds, if not thousands of years, people have lived in the area of the Guadalupe Mountains. It’s unknown whether they knew of the existance of the caverns in the mountain range during that time. What we do know is that in 1898, the opening to the cavern was found by a 16 year old teenager exploring the area and it was his discovery that eventually led to it becoming a national park.

After its founding, teenager Jim White came back with a homemade wire ladder with the intention of descending into the dark opening. The first pictures of the cavern were not taken until around 1915 and later published in the New York Times newspaper in 1923 at which time interest in the cavern exploded and more people came to visit the site. 

That same year, Carlsbad Caverns became a national monument and in 1930, it became a national park.

The cavern can be accessed two different ways. The first is by hiking in though the natural entrance (shown above). It is a 1.25 mile descent into the belly of the cave. This is the way we entered. The second is by elevator which takes you 750 feet on a steep route from the visitor’s center in the area of the Big Rooms. This is the way we exited when we were done. The elevator shaft was constructed in 1931 and put into use by 1932. 

Over its short history as a national park and with its many accessibility and lighting upgrades, over 39 million people have visited the site.   

Inside the main cavern area is another mile of walking trails through the amazing Big Rooms. Stalactites are seen hanging from the ceilings and stalagmites appear to be growing up from the floor below.   

Features and faces can be seen from the formations. The structure in the picture below looks like the figure of an old man with a beard, keeping a watchful eye over the cavern.

An ominous, drooling monster sits peering out from his position in the rock face (below).

Pools of water collect in certain areas of the cave. This one is known as Mirror Lake for the brilliant mirror effect produced in the water.

And a chandelier hangs down from the ceiling, decorated by hanging stalagtites.

Branched fractals can be seen in the image below, showing the brilliance of design in God’s creation of this cavern.

The kids loved visiting the caverns. Not just for its beauty, but it seemed like a Minecraft adventure to them… naturally. Lol!



Sunset Reef Campground-Boondocking

We pulled in late at night to a boondocking campground called Sunset Reef. It has 5 designated camp sites, picnic tables, trash cans, and bathrooms. Because all of the sites were taken, we took a spot on the outskirts of the fenced area to park our rig for the night. 

Internet was not tested as we were only there for the caverns and only stayed for 2 nights.

Access to the campground was fairly easy and far enough from the road to keep any traffic noise to a minimum.