Carlsbad Caverns New Mexico

To the Bat Cave!

Today we explored the caverns in Carlsbad New Mexico. We took the switch back walking entrance instead of the elevator. This entrance takes you 750 feet down into the earth over 1.5 miles.

We walked down…..

And down….

And still going down…

And then a bit more….

Still following Bruce through the labyrinth

Native Americans spent time in these caves, there are no known stories passed down but there are some wall etchings from 1,000 years ago. Modern travelers are not allowed into that part of the cave system as those areas are protected.

In the early 1800s settlers noticed lots of bats streaming out into the night sky and that is how the caves were discovered again. Some settlers used the bat guano as fertilizer, lugging buckets out of the caves.

In 1915 a cowboy named Jim White began exploring the caves. He got a photographer to go down with him and displayed the photos in Carlsbad. That started the tour business. Originally people climbed down a rope ladder then were lowered another 170 feet in a bucket.

Part of the rope ladder still remains

Word spread to D.C. in 1923 and after inspections by the Department of the Interior Carlsbad Cavern was proclaimed a national monument. Jim White remained, becoming its first chief ranger. He continued exploring the caves for most of his life.

Lion’s tail
Mirror lake
Love this lacy patterned rock. Found no information on how it develops, pretty though.
Whale’s tail

In 1986 cave scientists received permission to explore further and found over 140 miles of caves. The ecosystem is very fragile so access is restricted to scientists.

The area we walked was the 1.5 mile main corridor which emptied into the big room which is 8.2 acres.

The Brazilian free-tailed bats are migratory. Right now they are probably in Mexico. The ranger said they have been watching for their return but as of March 20 they are not back yet. We didn’t see any.

After all that walking we opted to take the elevator back to the top. The drive out of the park is pretty.

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