Carlsbad Caverns  

*Ranked #2 on my Cave List*

Carlsbad Caverns is my favorite cave. My family and I have visited this cave many times and each time I am amazed by the beauty and majesty of it. Below the common everyday chores dwells a dark place where silence brings to your ears a single drop of water...then another drop of water  to build a monument to the silence.

There are several tours offered by this cavern. The tours can range from very easy and clean to strenuous and dirty. Entering the cave is half the fun. One can purchase the use of a CD system which explains the formations as one walks through the cave. It is important to remember that touching formations stops them from growing...so no touching! Also stay on the paths. When you step off of the path you damage the are around. 

The walk-in tour begins with a steep drop down into the cave. This area between the surface land and the depths is like being between worlds.

As one continues to descend into the cave by a long series of switch-backs, the light begins to fade. The air becomes more humid and cool. Carlsbad, unlike many other caves uses differently colored lights to draw your attention to particular formations. However, the different colored lights are used sparingly. More on the photography aspects are explained on page two of Carlsbad Caverns. 


Rest Stop

Several stops along the trail into the cave are provided. It is important to remember to take your time and enjoy the views around you. The entrance is littered with large boulders that have fallen many years ago. These huge pieces of rock are astounding in size. The photograph to the right shows one such boulder. This boulder is called Iceberg Rock and weighs about 200,000 tons. If you can't imagine how big that is then think of this...it took 30 minutes to walk around it. 


Ice Berg Rock and Tunnel

As in all caves one can often imagine things in the rocks. The photograph to the left has a formation that looks like a person's face. The formations hanging from the ceiling are called stalactites, while those rising from the floor are called stalagmites. Some remember that stalactites are from the ceiling and the word contains a 'c'. Stalagmites have the letter 'g' in the word for ground where it is 
found. Another way to remember is that stalactites hold TIGHT to the ceiling while, stalagmites MIGHT reach up to the ceiling one day. There are many other formations viewed in the cavern including draperies, helictites, soda straws, pop-corn, cave pearls and cave bacon. One of my favorite formations are the helictites. These formations defy the laws of gravity as they grow in any direction. Caverns of Sonora, in Texas, has some of the most amazing helictites that I've ever seen.
Each formation is formed by tiny droplets of water that deposits calcite one drop at a time. It is interesting to me to find that each cave has a certain color to the formations. Color in the formations comes from stains as it passes through the earth. White formations are pure without any stains. There were a few places in this cave that had areas of near white color. 

 

Continue to page two for more information, photographs and links to this cave

 


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