250 million years ago, the Guadalupe Mountains — in what is today known as New Mexico, U.S. — were the ancient shoreline of a vast inland Sea that covered a great area of plains states. Today, much of New Mexico is covered with parched desert lands, though there are many features in this land that are still remnants of that long lost sea. The Carlsbad Caverns are one of the most impressive features created by the retreating waters from long ago. The caverns are an immense series of single caves, or “rooms,” which follow the path of the original water’s retreat through the hard limestone and soft clay and dirt. Not only is this one of the largest cave systems that has been discovered in America, the details of this system of caves is what sets it apart from any other.
Carlsbad Caverns Entrance
This winding switchback into the mouth of the cave begins your descent into the caverns, and is an impressive site in itself. As you enter into the darkness, the massiveness of the caverns really becomes clear. While going down this switchback is a fairly easy walk, walking back up can be very trying, which is why an elevator system connecting the main landing room to the visitors center was installed in 1932. Originally this descent was taken via rickety old iron stairs, as can be seen in the Fly-Through video below:
Check Out The Video Fly-Through of the Historic Stairs of Carlsbad Caverns:
Photo Courtesy of Another Header
The Carlsbad Caverns Lunchroom
The first site you see when you enter the main landing of the caverns is the Carlsbad Caverns Lunchroom. Many people are mystified when they enter into this room, as it is basically a large fast food restaurant deep in the earth. This is actually the perfect way to start your cave exploring adventure, as there is a lot of walking on the tours, and getting some extra strength beforehand is recommended.
The Rooms of Carlsbad Caverns
Again, the Carlsbad Caverns are a long series of interconnected caves. Each of the legs of the series are called rooms, and each room has its own unique theme, characteristics and atmosphere. Notable rooms include:
- The Ballroom
- The Bat Cave
- The Bell Cord Room
- The Big Room (Hall of Giants)
- The Green Lake Room
- The Hall of the White Giant
- OVER 118 CAVES
If you have never been exploring caves, or taken a tour of a cave, Carlsbad Caverns is the destination for you! The caves, area, and park are extremely developed and maintained, making this one of the easiest cave tours for those young or old, and even offers ease of access for those that are disabled. This is a destination you should consider visiting at any time of year.