Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico

Carlsbad Cavern, New Mexico

Our love for subterranean spaces is something we discovered only within the last year. It began with our spelunking trip in Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave where we learned there are better ways to experience the underworld than along paved paths. There’s just something unnatural about the aluminum handrails and colored ceiling lights that are the hallmark of developed cave tours. Far better, in our view, to turn on a headlamp and squeeze into pitch black sections few other people get to see.

Carlsbad Cavern

Shannon descends into Carlsbad's Lower Cave

More recently we discovered just how lucky we were to even get on that first trip. Efforts to protect cave goers and cave systems severely limits group sizes and tour runs, making “wild” caving trips somewhat scarce. Many sell out months in advance. We were completely shut out at Jewel Cave and Wind Cave in South Dakota. Our first choices at New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns were also fully booked. We considered ourselves fortunate to land a mid-week jaunt through Carlsbad’s Lower Cave.

The Lower Cave tour isn’t as hardcore as our first choices, although it does require a rope assisted descent and 50 feet of steep ladders to reach. Part of the fun in these trips is the challenge involved, but only part. The real attraction is experiencing a cavern in its natural state: raw, untamed and just a little bit dangerous. Hearing only the gentle drip of water somewhere in the far-off darkness; seeing only as far as the light of a meager headlamp can penetrate, is a completely unique experience.

Each cave we’ve entered we found to be remarkably different from all the others. There is always something new and amazing waiting for us each time we descend, which is why we keep going back.

Carlsbad Cavern 1

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8 Comments on “Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico”

  1. Pierotucci January 23, 2012 at 8:56 am #

    I always feel as if there is something scarey about going under ground – fascinating … but scarey all the same.

    Like

  2. Bukit Bear January 23, 2012 at 10:11 am #

    Love this place – a total Salvador Dali surrealist experience…

    Like

  3. Kristina January 23, 2012 at 11:22 am #

    spooky 🙂 Great experience 🙂

    Like

  4. Lynn (NM Enchantment) January 26, 2012 at 10:18 am #

    This is a great article! I don’t think a lot of visitors know they can explore the caves this way and it’s fabulous you wrote about it. If you don’t mind, I linked your article from my blog: New Mexico Enchantment

    Like

    • Brian January 26, 2012 at 7:07 pm #

      Links make us happy. 😮 Thanks for sharing.

      Like

  5. char January 26, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

    This place looks so spooktacular! Your site is intriguing. I had to feature you today on mine. Love all the places you’ve been to.

    Like

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