I’ve previously written about our March 2018 trip to Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas, and White Sands National Park (it was a Monument at the time) in New Mexico. On the same trip, we also visited Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico.

We arrived at the park mid-afternoon, a time which would ordinarily have been early enough to take the elevator down 750 feet, look around, and then take the elevator back or walk out the “Natural Entrance“. However, the elevator wasn’t working, so they only allowed people to do the walking tour. As a result, they didn’t allow anyone in at the time we arrived, in order to ensure everyone had enough time to climb back out. We looked at the Visitors’ Center, and planned our return for early morning.

Carlsbad Caverns “Natural Entrance”

One of the highlights of a Carlsbad visit is the “bat flight“. At the peak of the season, people can sit at the Natural Entrance in the evening to watch thousands of bats emerging from the cave in clouds. We were early in the season and the rangers said we probably wouldn’t see anything. However, we were among the first few people at the entrance next morning and we did see some bats flying around. Maybe a couple of hundred.

Just inside the cavern

As it turned out, the lack of elevators gave us a uniquely private feel to our exploration. We were literally the first ones to reach the main level loop and we saw perhaps a dozen other visitors during our self-guided tour. The caverns are enormous, and this loop is over a mile. We met a friendly ranger who stopped us to point out a semi-petrified bat embedded in the rock.

When we were at Guadalupe Mountains National Park, we also took the McKittrick Canyon trail as far as “the Grotto“. It’s a very strange formation that looks like it’s deep in a cave but actually is just part of an overhang.

The Grotto. Illumination is sunlight.

As we took our leave of the parks, we passed through Alamagordo, New Mexico to visit the world’s largest pistachio.

Certainly the largest I’ve ever seen.

During World War II’s “Manhattan Project”, Alamagordo was used for testing the atomic bomb. Perhaps that’s an explanation.