It's hard to describe a visit to Carlsbad. I stopped there on my way back from South Dakota and it turned out to be an underground wonderland. There were so many formations (both large and small) that it was difficult to walk through and digest it all. I looked at my photos and I'm not sure I'm doing it justice. I have some good closeups of different formations, but I'm not sure I was able to get a good overall or scene-setting shot to give you a sense of place or proportion. My advice is to visit New Mexico (https://www.nps.gov/cave/index.htm) so that you can see for yourself.
To begin, visitors usually walk through the natural entrance and wind their way down a mile+ walkway to "the big room". Once inside the big room, there is a go-at-your-own-pace, mile+ walkway that winds in and around and through the room. This is where you will see both large and small formations. When you're done, you can walk out or take an elevator to the surface. I was surprised that there were restrooms and a rudimentary snack bar and gift shop in one corner of the big room. There are ranger-guided tours as well, and you can find out more on Carlsbad's web site.
This is the natural entrance, as seen from the inside walkway. You can get some sense of scale from the sidewalk in the foreground as well as the fencing in the upper right. In the evenings, the bats emerge from this entrance and begin their nightly rounds, clearing the air of bugs and other pests.
These are some of the formations that you'll be able to see and photograph on the walkway and in the big room. These columns are massive structures, some 20 or 30 feet high. I guess technically, they are stalagmites because they are rising from the ground, but they are the biggest ones I've ever seen.
This next one is called the caveman (I think) because it resembles a caveman in profile (love the bangs).
On the ceiling, there are probably thousands of stalactites of every size and shape. The Carlsbad folks do a good job of lighting individual elements, so they stand out.
I went on the King's Palace, ranger-led tour in the afternoon and saw even more formations. This is one of the rooms on the tour...
Here is another. We spent a few minutes here, so I was able to zoom in on the structures in the lower left (not bad for hand-held)...
This one actually has some of the tour group in it, so you can get a sense of how large things are.
After the tour, I took one more stroll through the big room and then began the walk out (the elevator was very crowded).
This is Mirror Lake - not sure how well it will show up, but the sign has been placed upside down, so that "Mirror Lake" reads correctly in the reflection on the surface of the lake.
No blog would be quite complete without a shot of the snack bar and gift shop...
Near the end of my walkout, the late afternoon sun filtered through the natural entrance. I'm glad I could visit Carlsbad and share these with you.
Till next time, Spaceman17