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May 3, 2010

6

Touring Carlsbad Caverns

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Impressive and enormous the Carlsbad Caverns are located just across the Texas border and a little south of the city of Carlsbad, New Mexico.  I’ve visited caves in many states and countries, but none topped these.

Various tours are available ranging in prices, length, and difficulty.  I did the two most common of them; the Big Room and the Natural Entrance.  My tour was spread over a couple different days as I holed up in Carlsbad for two nights due to strong winds and to resupply.

My first tour was through the Big Room which has an elevator take you down 750 feet to get started.  They say, it is one continuous cavern covering 600,000 square feet!  I’ll take the word for it since even with my good sense of direction all I could do was follow the walkway.  Because of the elevator and walkways it’s accessible to nearly all and the pace is slow averaging an hour and a half to cover the 1-1/4 mile path.

From the beginning it’s obvious you aren’t in an ordinary cave.  Around every bend is an impressive formation and they keep getting better.  The size doesn’t only extend around you, but up and down as well.  In one area a dome raises 170 feet above you while a “bottomless pit” drops another 140 below.

I’ll pause now to say that I’m really liking the camera I picked for this trip, a Canon PowerShot S90
.  It’s sooo nice having a pocket size camera to take everywhere.  It has a F2.0 lens and can go up to 3200 ISO – awesome for low light.  I set the ISO to 1250 to keep the graininess down and didn’t need to use my flash through much of the cave.  When I did, I used a slow syncro flash at its lowest power setting and am very happy with the results.  There’s my photo tips (for now) learn what your camera can do and how to let it help you.

I returned later for the Natural Entrance tour.  For this you walk down from above ground and end up in the Big Room where you can take that full tour or head back to the elevator if you’ve already done that.  The entrance is the same one that the bats fly out of March-October.  I didn’t go see the bats unfortunately.  FYI, you aren’t allowed to use cameras or camcorders for the bats.

The Natural Entrance tour took me an hour as you walk ever lower into the cave.  I didn’t find the formations as impressive as the big room.  Still you get a better picture of how the caves were discovered and the challenges involved in exploring it due to its size and depth.  All in all an impressive place.  These two tours can easily be covered in half a day are well worth it.

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6 Comments Post a comment
  1. May 3 2010

    Wow Brian, that does look amazing! I add that to my places to visit list.

    Reply
    • May 5 2010

      It doesn’t matter how much we travel the “list” only gets longer doesn’t it?

      Reply
  2. Greg "Cuz"
    May 4 2010

    Nice shots with the camera. I am ashamed to say that when I lived in NM, I never made it out to the caverns.

    Reply
    • May 5 2010

      I guess the park service wasn’t in need of many futons…

      Reply
  3. Feb 27 2011

    WOW, beautiful views at the caverns!

    Reply
  4. Jun 20 2011

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