Sunset in the Coconino National Forest, looking northeast toward Sedona, AZ, 4/17/15
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
More from New Mexico, May 1-4
Just northeast of Guadalupe Mountains NP in Texas, is Carlsbad Caverns NP in New Mexico. I set aside the morning to check out the "Big Room." When I walked into the Visitor Center, I was shocked. It looked and felt very unlike other National Park Visitor Centers I'd been in ... this one reminded me of buying tickets for Disneyland. But, there was hardly any other visitors there that early, and I had the place almost to myself.
Words escape me as to how describe the hugeness, weirdness, quietness, and darkness of this cavern. It was of this world or, rather, in this world ... but felt out of this world. Taking an elevator almost 800 feet below the surface, I entered "the largest known natural limestone chamber in the Western Hemisphere ... more than 600,000 square feet ... 14 football fields." The hike around this chamber was 1.25 miles long.
I don't have a flash on my little phone camera, so these pictures were lit by the NPS lights strategically placed along the cavern trail (no color lights were used).
This is one park I'd love to come back to visit again, hiking an additional 1.25 miles down from the natural entrance (instead of taking the elevator) and watching the bats come out at dusk once they return from their winter in Mexico.
After the Carlsbad, I traveled north to have another out-of-this-world experience in Roswell, NM ... site of an alleged spaceship crash. It's a fairly large town with all of the expected large chain stores ... all taking advantage of the alien lure.
I spent the night at Bottomless Lakes SP, 13 miles east of Roswell. It has a series of lakes that are actually collapsed caverns that have filled with water (not really bottomless, of course). My camp site was next to the Devil's Inkwell Lake.
After Roswell, I headed north and stayed another night at a Harvest Hosts site, Wildlife West Nature Park. The owner, Roger Alink, was very nice and accommodating. So far, my Harvest Host membership has been a great deal!