Where We Be
Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
This mighty column is reflected in the shallow pool at its base
This spectacular formation reminds me of an organic pipe organ
Gaping natural entrance to Carlsbad Caverns
Just a thousand years more and these two might touch
Stalactites and "soda straws" hang from the ceiling
Abstract painting in stone
We expected to spend about an hour in Carlsbad Caverns
but the cave journey actually took us three hours. We started
at the Natural Entrance—that is, the cave opening at the
surface. You can also take a high-speed elevator down, but
that's cheating. Swallows dive-bombed in and out of the cave
entrance. We went down, down, down, losing 750 feet. The
lower we descended, the cooler it got. We followed along a
paved path with a handrail, pausing at numbered signs to
listen to commentary on our audio headsets.

We saw the pitch-black bat cave from which Mexican free-
tailed bats emerge each evening in summertime. Iceberg
Rock also impressed us—a 200,000 ton boulder that fell from
the cave ceiling thousands of years ago.

Eventually we reached the Big Room, an immense 8.2 acre
series of interconnected “rooms.” This amazing area is what
makes Carlsbad Caverns special and accounts for its status
as a National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. From
popcorn ceilings to fairy hoodoos to crystal cathedrals, this
cave has plenty to admire. I don’t think of myself as a “cave
person,” but I thought this cave was definitely worthwhile. Its
sheer scope amazes.