|Ready to begin our first tour at Carlsbad Caverns|
When we started off, he gave us all a lantern with a candle since this part of the cave wouldn’t have any artificial lighting sources. The girls thought that was one of the best parts… getting to carry a lantern. As we went through the cave, he explained that the Left Hand Tunnel was, in his words, the “uninteresting” part of the cave. If that was the case, we couldn’t wait to see the other parts. It was amazing! The best part of this tour for us was that as we got to the end of the formal part of the guided tour and started to turn around to go back, the guide asked us all if we were interested in going a bit further. He said that with a larger group he wasn’t able to go any further, but since there was only six of us, and since he had only been further back on this trail one other time, he was dying to get back there as well. So once again, we lucked out.
|Photo opp that I just can't resist!|
|My kids just love me!|
|Following the ranger off trail to Sherwood Forest|
|Stalactites in Sherwood Forest|
|These formations are called "draperies."|
We had packed a picnic to have during the 45 minutes between tours, but since we were already down in the cave and since we didn’t know what the line for the elevators looked like to get back down to the bottom, we grabbed a quick lunch inside the cave. The girls loved that part too… eating inside a cave. And I was hoping that the bats were still full and tired from their midnight eating excursion to smell our sandwiches!
|Eating lunch down in the cave.|
Even though the overall sites were more impressive in King’s Palace than the Left Hand Tunnel, both of the girls liked Left Hand Tunnel best – there was just something about getting to hold that lantern that made you feel more like you were exploring a cave… along with the fact that there wasn’t a specific paved path to follow.
We then decided to head back to the top via the elevator and start at the top to hike down the natural entrance. We originally had wanted the full experience, so our first plan was to hike in and hike back out. About one-third of the way down, even Ashlee realized that hiking back out (or should I say hiking back UP) wasn’t really going to be an option. We descended down a very steep incline into the cave on a winding paved path. The ranger at the entrance told us that it was steep and that we would feel it in our knees and back. I thought to myself, “No problem!” HA! She was right! My knee cried until we hit the flat part.
Once we got to the bottom, we entered into what they call “The Big Room.” It too was incredible. The Big Room was large enough to fit six full size football fields inside. And the formations were huge as well. This room had a 1.2 mile paved trail that wove around and through the room passing by different formations. It was a self-guided trail, so we just took our time and enjoyed walking through. Here are some pictures from The Big Room.
|This was in an area named "The Hall of Giants."|
|They called these "Lion Tails."|
|The "Crystal Spring Dome"|
|Standing in front of huge "draperies"|
As we were leaving, the Carlsbad Caverns' mascot was walking around. I told the girls, "You know what has to happen, don't you?" They just grinned at me and walked on over to "Carl E. Bat." Although they would probably never admit it, I think they secretly loved having their picture made with Carl E.! Carlsbad Caverns will definitely be one of the top highlights of our trip!
|Ashlee & Emilee posing with Carl E. Bat|