With a name like Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico’s largest cave system is a must see. I mean it just sounds frikin’ awesome. And awesome it was, proving that New Mexico is one of those states which have more to offer than meets the eye. Carlsbad is a small national park located in the southeast corner of New Mexico and is rather unassuming on the outside. Once inside, a system of caverns the size of many 747 jets is revealed- the maps in the cave show 747s alongside the cave system to give a sense of scale and more than one could easily fit in the cave. Luckily I brought my tripod along with me and was able to get some incredible snaps before heading into the Kings Palace.
The Kings Palace is a guided only section of the cave which still has many impressive stalactites and stalagmites intact and some cave water pools. This cave, which is some 750 feet (230m) underground was said to have been discovered in 1898 however was not proclaimed a national monument until 1923.
In early days the cave had been used for weddings and even films and as a result many areas are damaged. An in cave restaurant was even built and still stands today, however cold snacks and drinks are the only thing being served as people finally realized the damage which resulted from cooking in a cave (duh). Cooking fats and oils have now damaged large sections of the cave leaving much of it black, but if you look hard enough there are still some untouched areas.
Along with these man-made additions there are full toilet facilities at the bottom level of the cave- I have no idea where the water goes. There is also a lift running from top to bottom. The cave itself is impressive in its scale and one can easily spend a full day down there but unfortunately many formations have been damaged and are not as beautiful as smaller cave systems like that of Yallingup Caves in Western Australia. Nonetheless it was interesting especially seeing the way the Americans have preserved this natural wonder. I would like to think we are far more conscious of nature these days and would no longer treat these natural wonders in the same careless manner.