I planned a trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico to attend the Balloon Festival later this year in October, but when the opportunity arose to see Carlsbad Caverns National Park and other parts of New Mexico with a long time college friend, I leapt at the chance! If you’ve ever been to New Mexico, you will find that attractions are far apart so a rental car is a must! We flew in to Midland/Odessa Airport because it is a relatively short drive to Carlsbad Caverns. Our drive took us through long stretches of straight, flat, west Texas fields chocked full of oil wells. As we crossed the state border, our introduction to New Mexico was just about the same terrain. Carlsbad Caverns is located in the southeast part of New Mexico and it really must become your destination because there aren’t other attractions in the area.
We arrived at Carlsbad Caverns with the thought that we would take a guided tour but instead we opted for the self guided tour of The Big Room. Accurately named, the Big Room is the largest known natural limestone chamber in the Western Hemisphere. The room’s expanse is comparable to 14 football fields! Although the trail is only one and a quarter miles long, it takes about an hour and a half to see it all because of the number of stops to enjoy its beauty.
Carlsbad Caverns became a National Monument in 1923 and a National Park in 1930. The National Parks Service also offers Bat Flight Programs and monthly Saturday Star Parties. Both are free to the public and no advance reservations are necessary. Sun and Moon hikes are also offered. The hikes are free also but limited to the first 35 participants. To check the schedule of events, go to the NPS website.
So, if you’re inclined to see Carlsbad Caverns, plan a road trip and see several New Mexico destinations like we did. Just make sure you’re driving a car with good gas mileage because while the attractions are beautiful, it’s a long way in between!
For more of my New Mexico adventures, read about White Sands National Monument, the Zuhl Museum, Bandelier National Monument, Frontier Restaurant , Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, Chili Line Depot, Orlando’s New Mexican Cafe, and Habaneros Fresh Mexican Food.
Until we meet again…