Sunday, September 11, 2016


It was a long drive, about 425 miles, to Carlsbad from Bisbee, AZ.  First we went South to Douglas, located on the Mexican border, and then headed Northeast where we enventually got on New Mexico Rte. 9. As we passed through Columbus, N.M. we passed the Pancho Villa State Park.There  probably is something to see there, but it was hot, and we still had a long way to go. The country was open range with the border at times I think being the road bed! On the Western edge of El Paso we picked up the Tx. 375 Loop around the city. We thus by-passed the city, and almost all of the gas stations!  On the East side of the loop we got on U.S. 180/62. We almost joined the Army when we took an exit that led only to the main gate of Fort Bliss. Only an illegal U-turn saved us from enlistment. The scenic highlight on this drive was through
Guadalupe National Park and Going through Guadalupe Pass.
Guadalupe Peak 
It was then an hour drive to the city of Carlsbad, N.M. Meanwhile Pat and Janeane had taken a more Northern route and we eventually rendezvoused at our motel. In Carlsbad we found a very nice Italian restaurant, Little Italy, for dinner.

The next day was spent in and around Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

On the drive into the Park we came across a herd of Barbary sheep. There were about a dozen of them scampering along the North canyon wall. We were able to stop and George and I took a few pictures of them. These sheep are not native and were
first brought to the United States in about 1900 from North Africa. They have been reared in zoos and on private preserves for a number of years. They were first released into the wild in New Mexico in 1950. They are now trophy hunted by big game hunters.
Barbary Sheep Herd

Trio of Barbary Sheep
The park contains over 119 caves. Three caves are open to public tours. Carlsbad Caverns is the most famous and is fully developed with electric lights, paved trails, and elevators. Slaughter Canyon Cave and Spider Cave are undeveloped, except for designated paths for the guided "adventure" caving tours.

We opted to hike down into the Caverns via the natural entrance. This is a steep 1.25 mile walk down into the “Big Room”.

Natural Entrance to Carlsbad Caverns
The Big Room is a natural limestone chamber almost 4,000 feet (1,220 m) long, 625 feet (191 m) wide, and 255 feet (78 m) high at the highest point. It is the fifth largest chamber in North America and the twenty-eighth largest in the world. Afterwards we took a Ranger led tour of the  King's Palace named for a large castle-like formation in the center of the room.


Stalactites and Curtains

"Lion's Tails"
The caverns were known in the 1800’s, and probably earlier by the local Native Americans. The Caverns were first entered in 1898 and explored by 16 year-old, Texas born cowhand, Jim White. Jim White was fascinated by what he saw with only a makeshift lantern, and proceeded to explored the cavern with a homemade wire ladder for many years.

White’s City, located just East of the Park was developed by Jim White. White's City is an unincorporated town with a population of about 10!

 In the evening we returned to the Park to observe the Bat Flight Program. This involves watching the Brazilian  free-tailed bats, present from April or May to late October or early November, emerge in dense groups, corkscrewing upwards and counterclockwise, usually starting around sunset and lasting about three hours in search of dinner. No cameras or electronic devices are allowed as this disturbs the bat's


Serpent formation


King's Palace Chamber
The daily pre-dawn return of the bats is different from the evening exit flights, but are just as impressive. Early risers (approx. 4-6 am) can see the bats as they re-enter the cavern with spectacular dives from heights of hundreds of feet. Individual bats may reach speeds of 25 mph (40 km/h) or more. Nursing mothers might be in and out of the cave throughout the night as they hunt and return to feed their young.

As we had had a late lunch we called it a day after the bat show. We had a small dessert of chocolate with a glass of wine, before turning in.

Storm in the Distance

1 comment:

  1. I think the Guadalupes are the prettiest part of TX. Great shots in Carlsbad. Haven't been there in decades.