Venturing Into Dark Places

This week's assignment for Monday Memories is to write about about someplace different or special that you've visited at some point in your life.  Why don't you join me and share an adventure of your own?

My husband works three Saturday's a month, so we have only one two-day weekend each month to spend together.  We try to plan something fun to break up the monotony of our work routine.  This past weekend we decided to head over to Carlsbad Caverns in southeastern New Mexico, about 150 miles from where we live.  It had been a long time since either of us had been down in the caverns. My ex and I took our kids some 25 years ago!

We spent an overnight in Carlsbad, and headed out to the Caverns early on Sunday to avoid the crowds.  This was a great choice, as we opted for a self-guided tour, and had the winding trail thru the cavern pretty much to ourselves, encountering only few other people along the way.  Because the long walk including many stairs descending over 800 feet into the cave from the natural opening is very hard on old knees like ours, we opted for the elevator trip down and up, which takes merely a minute!

The trail we took winds up, down, and around thru the main large room of the cave. They claim it's 1.3 miles, but it's a strenuous hike that takes more than an hour and feels much longer. As you can see from the pictures, the cave has just the right amount of lighting to enable you to enjoy the amazing formations while still giving you the feeling of being in the shadowy dark. It is quiet, damp, and cool - comfortable with a light jacket. Being one who is very uncomfortable with ledges and steep drop-offs, I was grateful for the safety railings which line both sides of the entire trail, and the occasional benches provided as rest spots.

The above ladder is from the early 1900's and descends 150 feet into a hole.  Ah, no thank you, I'll stick to the path! (Obviously, it is no longer used. Imagine what courage it took for those early spelunkers to descend swinging on this while holding onto lanterns for visibility!)

Stalactites (hanging from the ceiling) and stalagmites (rising up from the floor) come in all kinds of varieties and create a surreal, almost magical feeling like being in the bowels of an old castle or maybe a troll's hideaway!

We arrived at the end of the trail loop tired and feeling the burn of our leg muscles, but we totally enjoyed the magical experience. On the way back up to the surface, the operator turned off the lights inside the elevator so we could watch the stone walls of the elevator shaft rush by as we flew upward... very pretty in an eerie sort of way, as you realize that your elevator car is entombed in solid stone on four sides for a distance of 75 stories!

At one time Carlsbad Caverns was listed as one of the "Seven Wonders of the Natural World", and it's easy to see why. Taking a tour is a must-do experience if for some reason you find yourself traveling near the dusty little city of Carlsbad in the remote southeast corner of New Mexico.

During the summer months, there is also a sunset "bat flight" program at the Caverns, where you can watch thousands of bats exit the mouth of the cave for another night of hunting. I haven't seen that, but have heard it's pretty amazing.


  1. Living so close to an amazing place like this, I think I would want to visit it often, there must be so much to see !!
    Great post, the pictures are really cool !!!

  2. This is special! I've never been in such a place and I'm glad you shared it with us. The bats sound exciting and terrifying at the same time. :D

  3. Wonderful post Josie -- you make me want to visit -- you made me feel like I was there!

  4. I've always wanted to go to there. Sounds so amazing.

  5. Cool Josie. Hmm about the knees, yep I identify. There were some great limestone caves a few hours drive from where we used to live which we occasionally visited. I never could pronounce their name, much to the family's amusement. They are called Yarrangobilly caves. I an told that it is pronounced yar-ran-go-billy, not yar-ran-gobbilly. Hehehehe.

  6. Great photos of a delightful adventure. I find caverns fascinatingly weird. :)

    Mad Kane


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