The moment you descend into the depths of the Carlsbad Caverns, you feel as though you are instantly transported into another world. A world that will wow you its many diverse creatures and ornate display of natural formations. Any picture you see of the caverns no matter how talented the photographer, will not capture the true beauty of this mysterious wonder. It is something you MUST come and see for yourself and it will make quite the impression on you. I can still hardly believe that places like this exist on earth. Mother Nature is mysterious as she is magnificent.
The Carlsbad Caverns are what inspired my recent trip to New Mexico. I had so much fun cavin’ in the caverns with my good friend Myles, and my favorite travel partner, Tim. We went during Memorial Day weekend, which is one of the busiest times to visit the Caverns but we felt like we got to experience the caves as select group for a little bit. Here are a few tips to make the most out of your trip to the Carlsbad Caverns:
- Get there early. I am by no means an early bird myself, but I can’t stress this enough. We went to the Caverns on a Sunday morning on Memorial Day weekend, and I am so glad we got there early. Our tour was scheduled for 8:30am. We got there a few minutes before to check-in and there were maybe 10 other people in front of us. It was so quiet and I wondered if any other visitors were going to show up. When we made our way back to the top at around 1pm, the line just to get in was out the door! It was loud (which is a shock for you when you emerge from the quiet depths), and it was excruciating to move from one end of the visitors center to the other because it was so crowded. Keep in mind that this is one of the most visited National Parks in the U.S., so early is always better!
- Book a tour. I can’t thank Myles enough for thinking ahead and booking us a tour. It was THE best way to experience the Caverns on a more personal level, and it was very affordable. They keep the tour groups small, and you venture into parts of the caves that not many people get to see. We took the Lower Cave tour which I highly recommend. On this 3 hour ranger led tour, you get to don hard hats with headlights and conquer your fear of climbing down steep ladders and rope. The rangers were amazing and knowledgeable in answering any questions you had about the caves. My favorite part was when each person got to crawl through a tight part of the cave one by one and enter into a room where we all turned our headlights off to experience the caves in their natural state: complete darkness and quiet. It was an eerie yet calming experience.
- Take photos! This is a great places to practice your photography skills. I used my fabulous Sony NEX-5T camera and messed around with the settings until I found a setting that I thought worked best. My favorite travel partner used his Iphone 6 plus and got some great shots. I even brought out my “ancient” Iphone 5 to get a few snapchat shots and they turned out okay. I was a little worried about damaging my camera on the tour while I climbed and crawled though the caves, but I am glad that I decided not to leave it in the car because I would have regretted not getting photos and it would have been a pain in the ass to have to go get it.
- Allow at least a half a day to experience the caverns. Exploring the Big Room, which is the main attraction, will take you a few hours. It is definitely a hike so be prepared and eat a big breakfast or snack before you go in, bring your camera, and please for the love of God pack some water! We got so thirsty down there! You can purchase water in the Underground Lunch Room if you really need to.
- Don’t miss the bat flight. Unfortunately, since we had a limited amount of time, we had to miss the bat flight that night, and we heard that it was an amazing one! Plan accordingly if you have time so that you can witness the bats that roost in the Caverns as they fly out at dusk!
Since Nature is constantly changing, the Carlsbad Caverns are definitely worth more than one visit. Put this on your list of places to see! You will love it!