May 28, 2015

Roadtrippin' 2015 - Carlsbad Caverns National Park

We spent the second day of our road trip at Carlsbad Caverns National Park, which was about an hour drive from our hotel. Unfortunately, they do not allow dogs inside the cave, so we kenneled Gus and Carson at the Carlsbad Caverns Trading Post. Basically, they were kept in a cage with water for the time we were exploring the cave. It was not like a day at day care for them. Luckily, this was the only time throughout our whole trip that we had to kennel them.

Our day started with a self-guided tour via the Natural Entrance trail. There are two ways to get into the Carlsbad Caverns: by walking (natural) or by elevator (unnatural). The Natural Entrance trail begins outside and descends about 740 feet into the cave via a very steep and dark path. The entire trail is about 1.25 miles long.

Descending into the cave via the Natural Entrance

Natural formations decorate the cavern. These include stalactites and stalagmites.

Some of the formations have been given names, such as this one "The Whale's Mouth."

We continued exploring the cave on the Big Room Trail. The Big Room is the largest room in the cave and can fit over six football fields inside it.

The trail was roughly a 1.25 mile hike around the perimeter of the Big Room with lots more interesting formations to see. Photos hardly do justice to the caverns.

The Doll's Theatre

As we were enjoying the Caverns, we talked a lot about what it would have been like to be one of the first explorers. There are still some old ladders preserved in the cave. Can you even imagine climbing one of these with a lantern and having no idea what lies below you?

We took a break for lunch, which required us to go up to the surface. Then we joined a guided tour of the King's Palace section of the Carlsbad. You can only explore this section with a ranger-led tour. 

The 1.5 hour tour led us through four of the scenic rooms. At one point, the ranger turned off the lights to the room and we were in complete darkness.

In total, we hiked about 3.5 miles around Carlsbad Caverns. The King's Palace Tour marked the end of our visit, but not the end of our day.

After collecting the puppies, we drove 3 hours to the town of Alamogordo. We had a hard time finding a place to eat. Apparently, places still close on Sundays in some towns!

We wound up picking up some sandwiches from Brown Bag Deli and bringing them back to our hotel room. My sammie actually hit the spot after a day of exploring and traveling!

Stay tuned for more road trippin' adventures!

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