Carlsbad was our third stop in New Mexico, after Santa Fe and Albuquerque. We arrived at the KOA in Carlsbad on Monday June 3rd and left for Texas on Friday June 7th, 2013.
The main attraction in Carlsbad are the caverns at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Philippe was very excited as in addition to a marvelous field trip, he collected his 4th Junior Ranger badge. The first one was from Grand Canyon, AZ, the second from Zion in Utah, the third one from La Mesa Verde in Colorado and now this one.
Carlsbad Caverns are considered to be the eighth wonder of the world. After our visit I had to agree with this statement. I was so overwhelmed with wonder that I told my family that if our journey had to stop there, I would be very content!!
The rock containing Carlsbad Cavern was formed by a reef around 250 million years ago. I do realize that some of you may disagree with this statement but I am only reflecting our tour narrative. There were three major environments in the reef that controlled the kind of organisms living there and the type of rock that was left behind. These reefs were formed from corals, calcareous sponges and algae along with bryozoans, bivalves, marine snails and various micro organisms. The story of the formation of the cavern goes on and on but let’s get to the essential before you get too bored. Between x and y million years ago, hydrogen-sulfide-rich waters (H₂S) began to migrate through deep fractures in the rocks from oil and gas fields surrounding the ancient reef. This water mixed with rainwater moving downward through the rock. During mixing the H₂S combined with the oxygen carried by the rainwater and formed sulfuric acid (H₂S04). This acid dissolved the limestone along fractures and folds in the rock to form Carlsbad Cavern. This process left behind massive gypsum deposits, clay and silt as evidence of how the cave was formed.
I hope that you will enjoy the pictures below. These are a small samples of what I took as I have 924 pictures of the Cavern. Sabrina told me that she does not want to see a camera flash for a long time!
At the ceiling you can notice the formation of what’s called cave popcorn. Cave popcorn are circular formations that look like caramel popcorn!!
At that point we entered what’s called The Big Room. This is the largest known natural limestone chamber in the Western Hemisphere. The floor space in the Big Room is estimated at more than 600,000 square feet. The pictures below were taken from The Big Room.
Below is a picture of draperies. A drapery is a sheet like stalactite that forms along a crack in the ceiling.
A column is when a stalagmite and a stalactite have grown together.
Below on the right hand side, is the column of the Giant Dome. Its height is 62 feet (19 meters) above the trails. On the left hand side of the Giant Dome are the Twin Domes. These are stalagmites of 58 feet above trail (18 meters).
What you see on the picture below are three massive Speleothems – the largest in the cave. These giants began as small deposits on the cavern floor. Gradual accumulation of calcite from dripping water caused them to grow in height and girth.
The wire ladder that you see below was installed in 1924 during a 6 month exploration and survey sponsored by the National Geographic Society. Built by Jim White (a young cowboy who found the entrance of the cave back in 1898) the ladder descents 90 feet into the Lower cave.
Trying to resuscitate after spending 4 hours at 1000 feet below the surface!
Back to our KOA located in the middle of nowhere in the desert! It was actually a great KOA voted the best in New Mexico. As space was not lacking, our site was very large. Due to its rather isolated location, this KOA was serving dinner either at the restaurant or delivered at your site. A shop was available and the staff were extremely helpful. I would recommend staying there if you are planning to visit the cavern.