Saturday, November 10, 2018 (KOA Campground, Carlsbad, New Mexico)

We all jumped into Dave and Leslie's truck just after 9:30 and headed south to Carlsbad Caverns National Park. It was a cloudy morning to start, but as we neared the Caverns, the clouds started to part and we had some blue sky and sunshine.

Dave and Leslie had purchased a national park pass when they were at Zion, and it worked for all 4 of us today...nice! We headed to the gift shop where I paid for the phones to use for all of us on the self-guided tour and then got in line for the elevator down to the cavern. The ride down took about a minute and a half...750 feet into the cavern. There is a Natural Entrance Trail...The 1.25 mile (2 km) Natural Entrance Trail is extremely steep. Depending on if you decide to hike up or down, you gain or lose about 750 feet (229 m)—equivalent to walking up or down a 75-story building. The hike takes about one hour (on average) to complete....but that would be pretty hard on the old knees. The general consensus for all...let's take the elevator!
We walked the Big Room Trail...The most popular route, the Big Room, is the largest single cave chamber by volume in North America. This 1.25 mile (2 km) trail is relatively flat, and will take about 1.5 hours (on average) to walk it. Actor and comedian Will Rogers called the cavern, "The Grand Canyon with a roof over it." You will be rewarded with spectacular views, cave formations of all shapes and sizes, and a rope ladder used by explorers in 1924.
(Click on photos to enlarge)
Chihuahuan Desert...
Carlsbad Caverns National Park is located in a finger of the Chihuahuan Desert, one of the four great deserts in western North America. Numerous plants and animals call this high desert home and manage to survive in spite of the little rainfall and extreme temperatures. Plants like lechuguilla agave, yucca, and sotol have waxy leaves that slow evaporation, as well as spines that protect them from predators. Most animals are active only at night when it is cooler.
Geology Orientation...
During the Permian Period, 250 million years ago, an inland sea covered the Delaware Basin close to where you are standing. The skeletons and other components of sea plats and animals like algae and sponges, made of calcium carbonate (limestone), accumulated on the edge of this sea to form a reef. Today this reef is the best example of a fossil reef found anywhere in the world.
Over the millennia this ancient coastline has been lifted above sea level to form the rugged but beautiful Guadalupe Mountains that you see around you. Many caves have been discovered in these mountains.

It's very dark in the caverns so can be very tricky taking photos. Not knowing what a professional photographer would set his camera to, Steve used the auto no flash setting on his Nikon D5100 which has worked in the past. With the darkness the shutter speed is slowed considerably, so without a steady hand some photos ended up blurry and had to be deleted. It would have been best to also use a tripod but that would be a hassle and time consuming. The Adobe Lightroom Photo Editing program really helps to brighten and sharpen the photos...

You can buy souvenirs and dine 750' below the surface!

See the pathway that weaves it's way around in this gives you some idea as to how large these caverns case you're claustrophobic:)

Lions Tail...

The sign is backwards and reads Mirror Lake which can be read correctly on the reflection on the water...

Steve wasn't able to get a photo of the bat poop :(

See the pathway in the distance below...

See the people in the distance...

Crystal clear water...

I'm a ghostly figure...LOL!

More water...

Wow...that was incredible...ya gotta love Mother Nature! By the time we were finished our tour of the caverns and a quick look at the exhibits, it was 1:30 and time to find a place for lunch. After a quick look on Google Maps and TripAdvisor, we decided on The Lucky Bull Grill in Carlsbad.

View from the Carlsbad Caverns Visitor's quite the climb considering how flat it is below...
Views as we head back down...

There were far too many pictures to post so if you're interested in seeing more cavern photos click Carlsbad Caverns.

Side note:  A day after our visit to the caverns Dave and Leslie's neighbours had to walk out after  one of the two elevators failed. The other one was out of commission when we were there.

Time for lunch!
After getting seated at a table, we were told by the waitress that New Mexico law requires that all patrons ordering liquor must show ID...and guess what? Steve didn't have his wallet with him! So the young lady taking our order would not serve him a beer...seriously? I can see it for people of questionable age but when it's obvious you're serving a near senior...said Steve pointing to his hair? But it wasn't her fault, she was only "following the rules". So Dave, Leslie, and I all ordered our pints...leaving Steve steaming over a glass of water...too funny (but I don't think he thought so!)

As the rest of us were enjoying our brew, Steve thought he'd double-check his coat pockets...and discovered he did have his wallet (he doesn't normally carry it unless he is driving) after all! So he ended up joining us with a beer and we "re-cheered", this time all having a pint in hand!
(Update...we had since visited a few other establishments in NM and not one of them asked for ID so it's obviously not the law...The Lucky Bar and Grill must of had an issue in the past and got their wrists slapped:)
On our way home, we decided to take a drive through Brantley Lake State park..our first choice had sites been available. Turns out we made a good decision with the KOA...there were few sites big enough for our rigs and manoeuvring around the loops would have been pretty tight for us.

Brantley Lake Dam...
Brantley Lake...
We were home around 4:30 and joined Leslie and Dave for happy hour at their place....where both Steve and I had a great time playing "laser pointer" with Margaret. We get such a kick watching her dart around chasing the red dot! (I stole the picture from Dave and Leslie's blog...thanks! :)


  1. Visiting those caverns is amazing, we did the natural engrave about 10 years ago going down, that was a good workout, Took the elevator up of course and then back down and up the next day to explore more. Glad you have a good day glad that Steve git his beer finally.

    1. We’ve done a few different caverns and they are all so unique.

  2. Yes those caves are magnificent. Glad the elevator worked for you and us 2 years ago. It would have been a challenge for Ray for walk that far not to mention me.

    1. I couldn’t imagine having to walk out if you were physically challenged. I guess they would have to send somebody down with a wheel chair.

  3. That was a great post on the caverns! Man I might go back and link ours to yours, the pictures are great Steve. With the ay you put that together with the interpretive signs. Good work! I spent more time describing Steve getting id'd lol.

    1. LOL...thanks guys! It’s a lot of work but worth it. Now if we could only get caught up!