My family took a little trip recently to Carlsbad Caverns National Park where you basically pay to walk into a large deep dark hole in the ground. And it’s amazing!
I’d been here before, so this time I got to experience the wonder of the cavernous underworld all over again. But on top of that, I had the joy of watching my kids, parents, and brother with his family drop their jaws in awe at this place.
Driving into the park is the building up of a sense of grandeur as you navigate a windy road up and around small mountains until you reach the parking lot at the top, overlooking a vast plain far below.
Once inside the visitor center, you go through a small exhibit area that gives a sneak peak at what you’re about to experience. A huge 3D model showcasing the impressive caverns helps you grasp what it is that you’re really going to hike through.
With anticipation piled up, you finally walk out and onto the nicely paved path gently sloping downward to the natural cave entrance.
And then, seemingly out of nowhere, there’s this big black gaping mouth of opened ground begging to swallow you in. It looks like a bottomless pit! So of course, you want to see where it goes. What’s down there!?
The best part is, you’re welcome to walk right down the well made path lined with convenient shiny handrails for you to safely explore this enchanting place.
Just maybe watch out for bats.
So down me and my family went. And down some more. Down again. Does this thing ever end? Switchback after switchback. This is just the entry. The magnificent caverns await far below.
I told my boys that we’d hit bedrock like in Minecraft. It feels that way.
The descent is a site to behold. There are strategically lit rocks and formations all over. And it’s very quiet. Park Rangers urge you to whisper as you hike down since your voice carries so easily off the long walls.
The hushed silence isn’t hard to come by since the caverns kinda take your breath away in the first place. It makes the whole hike feel mysterious or even solemn, like you’ve entered nature’s sanctuary.
Finally, you reach the bottom and the inside of the mountain opens up all around you. You’ve been swallowed down the esophagus and are now in the stomach of the land.
A sign points you to the main chamber for more awe and splendor. And it points to the snack shop area, elevators, and bathrooms for relief. That’s where we went next.
Once regrouped, we headed for the main chamber called the Big Room. It’s huger than huge! And it’s packed full with a beautiful array of formations like stalagmites and stalactites all revealed by various lights displaying their textures and shapes. How are these crazy things formed?!
You walk on the maze like trail for a long time trying to take it all in, which is almost overwhelming. By the time you reach the end and make for the elevator that whisks you up to the surface, you’re wonder bucket is overflowing.
Once we made it back up, we turned our wonder into gift shopping energy. So much cool stuff! And the restaurant promised calories to replenish our fatigued selves. But we opted for eating back in Carlsbad and having some snacks along the way.
After buying a few souvenirs, we happily returned to our cars outside, again enjoying the vista from atop the mountain. Back down the winding roadway we went, thankful for our little family adventure.
If you can go see Carlsbad Caverns, I highly recommend it.