Do one of the hardest cave tours first

Trip Start Jun 01, 2011
1
6
60
Trip End Jul 31, 2011


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Where I stayed
White's City Cavern Inn Whites City
Read my review - 4/5 stars
What I did
Lower Cave Tour in Carlsbad Caverns

Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Monday, June 6, 2011

Yes, why start with an easy cave tour. Just jump to the hard one where you have to have a helmet, flashlight, knee pads, and a tight grip.

Relaxing morning as our Carlsbad tour did not start until 1:00. So we took our extensive list of things to get and made our way into the town of Carlsbad 17 miles away to the handy-dandy Wal-Mart. Got plenty of things including a small air mattress for $10 for my Grand Canyon Camping and a nice fishing hat for $5. This Wal-Mart had so much more outdoor stuff than the ones back in Atlanta. Besides outdoor gear I also got some small knick-knacks to fix up the RV (there is always something to fix in the RV). Out of Wal-Mart we found some cheap Diesel and made our way back to White's City RV park for lunch.

Around noon it was time to go up the mountain to Carlsbad Caverns National Park. We got our tickets to the Lower Cave tour which is one of the hardest. Why did we start with the hardest? I don’t know. Now started my yo-yo time to the truck and back. Right as we got to the elevators to take us down to the cave I found out that we were not suppose to have backpacks. So, we took our waters out and back to the truck I went to drop off the packs. Back at the elevators they then told me I needed these green tickets to us the elevator. Well when they gave them to me I thought they were parking passes like most National Parks have. So I had to go back out to the truck to fetch the green passes. Now we finally get to go down the elevator 750 feet to the main cave area. This had a gift shop, restrooms, and some gas station type food. We met the ranger for our tour and found out some more info that we did not get. Like the fact you needed 4 AA batteries for the head lamps and gloves. They had some gloves for us but I had to go to the gift shop to get some batteries (of which we have a ton of back in the RV).

This was a three hour tour off the beaten path of the cave with lots of adventures. First, we had to repel down a knotted rope at a 45 degree angle on slick rock. After that we had to descend a series of wet twisting ladders through small holes in the cave to get to the lower part of the caverns. When you have to do this the tour group has to be small (ours only had 12 people) and was manned by two National Park rangers. After all that to get down there the rest of the trail was OK. There were some slick spots and times we had to shimmy up and down rocks without falling in a mud pit or geologically fragile areas. Some of the trail was like a fat-man squeeze – easy for Pooja but hard for me. I had rock scrape marks all over me at the end. The best invention was the cave helmet. I can’t tell you how many times I banged my head on a rock with my helmet. The fun part of the tour was putting on the knee pads and crawling through this narrow passage on my hands and knees and sometimes belly. Hard for me, but Pooja said she really did not have to get on her knees at all. That’s when it pays to be small. We did a black-out too where the ranger turns off the lights and we sit in compete darkness and silence. At the end of the tour we had to scamper back up the ladders and rope. A tiring tour it was but a great introduction to Carlsbad Caverns. Now we can take the easy tours tomorrow.  

Back down the hill we went to the White’s City RV park for a little rest and to cook a dinner of ribs. A big lighting storm hit the area during dinner. It was neat seeing the lightning strikes all across the mountains and the valley below. Pooja was not feeling well so she took a long nap while I headed back up the hill to hopefully see the bat show. Even though the storm was clearing, the park service canceled the show. I think someone died from a lighting strike up here once before so they are a little trigger happy with canceling these programs. However, a good crowd did gather along the fence outside the Natural Entrance where the bats come out. The weather was a perfect 80 degrees (for the desert) and a nice cool breeze made it better. The sunset was really cool with all the leftover clouds from the storm still getting in the way and creating all kinds of colors. Around 8:15 a few bats started coming out – but not many. Since it had been dry, many bats have migrated to wetter areas. So after an hour, I headed back out down the hill. Back at the RV I worked on pictures outside in the perfect weather for hours.

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