Guadalupe Mts NP/ Carlsbad Caverns NP/ Carlsbad
Trip Start Feb 09, 2013
102Trip End Jun 30, 2013
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Now back to our trip. We left Davis Mt. State Park and headed north through the Davis Mts. to Kent to get to interstate 10 heading west. Now our GPS did not want us to go this way and wanted us to drive back to Marfa or even east to reach the interstate. I had asked at the observatory about the road north of it and was told that it is beautiful and a really nice safe drive even with a 25 ft RV. We saved over 50 miles driving by taking this road and it was one of the most beautiful drives we have been on. Mts, great road and ranches all along the drive. Best of all we saw one other car on the whole time!
Once we got on I-10 west, we only drove about 35 miles and got off at Van Horn, TX. Purchased some gas and headed north to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park on the border of TX and NM. Along the way we drove by a salt basin and through the Apache Mts
Guadalupe Mts National Park has over 47,000 acres protected as a wilderness so only primitive camping and hiking are allowed. The other half of the park of the same size lies in the southern part with two Visitor Centers, two campgrounds without hookups, an historic ranch and trails for hiking all over. The ruins of the stagecoach stop Butterfield State still remain near the Pine Springs Visitor Center. This is very easy to drive since the road through the mountains lies south of the highest Mt peaks with double lanes. We stopped at the Visitor Center for a movie and some great exhibits. Leaving we decided to check out the campground here because we had considered staying here for one night for $4.00, when I was planning the trip but since it is Easter weekend we needed to get to a place for two nights. Walked the trail to see the ruins of the stagecoach station. In this National Park there are the canyons, the highlands and a desert and it was home to the Mescalero Apaches. It is considered having the best examples of ancient marine fossil reef. When the sea evaporated from here the reef was buried in a thick blanket of sediments and mineral salts.
Leaving the Visitor Center, we continued to drive along the road on the southern part of the park driving pass the Frijole Ranch and History Museum and the road for McKittrick Canyon where there are hiking trails, picnic areas and another Visitor Center
We were going by Carlsbad Caverns (now both George and I have been in the caverns before and since I am becoming a little claustrophobic we decided not to go down below the ground in an elevator that goes down more than three Empire State Buildings), but we wanted to view the exhibits and movies and to see the views. Well, we forgot it was seven miles in on a curvy road winding up, up, up the mountain. This actually is an extension of the Guadalupe Mountains. This National Park is situated in the Chihuahuan Desert and is an underground world of gigantic subterranean chambers, fantastic cave formations, and extraordinary features. It is beautiful up there with stunning views and tons of tourists. Most of the caves now are self-guiding but they limit how many can go down per hour and tickets must be purchased and reservations would be the best. Now, the rangers are located below to assist tourists and to move the lines along. There are a few ranger guided tours like for the Queen's chamber and there are some tours where you are almost on your hands and knees. It was here that we watched a film about the caves and also attended the talk on the Javelinas (pronounced begging with an h).
What I wanted to see was the entrance to the cave where they have seating to watch 300,000 to 500,000 Mexican free-tailed bats emerge at dusk in the summer only to eat insects before coming back to the cave during the early morning hours
Left the Caverns and headed back down the road and headed north to Carlsbad where we spent the next two nights. I originally wanted to stay at the state park north of the town but when I tried to make reservations they were totally booked six months ago so we had to stay at a private one. We had a discount with Passport America the first night and a small one the second with Good Sam but this was the most expensive park we have stayed at and not worth it. We had some nice neighbors but this park has a lot to do but it needs to be updated.
On Friday we went to the New Mexico Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park about six miles north of our campground. Very interesting
At the end of the trail there was a huge Greenhouse that had Cactus from all over the world. I do not remember most of the names but it was really fascinating. Many of the Cactus just bloom at night. We were glad that we stopped here.
Enjoyed a stop at a Chinese Buffet before we headed back to our campsite to do some laundry and get ready for our drive tomorrow. One last thing – the weather. It has been hot here in the daytime and cold at night and the campground host told me at check-in that in a month the heavy rains come in. She said they are really bad and that is when they have flash flooding. Most of the roads we have been driving have flash flooding warnings and bars in the ground showing that they can go up to 5ft or more. So we are really lucky that we are here now and that in a month we will be in AZ or even Utah before these rains come in.
Thursday & Friday, March 29 & 30 Carlsbad RV Park and Campground, d Carlsbad , NM
We stayed here for two nights because it was Easter weekend and many of the other parks in the area don’t take reservations. The rate is $44 but they do offer Passport America (1 night only) and Good Sam discounts. Right on the main drag with gas stations and restaurants and it is about 22 miles to the Caverns from here. Check in was fast, informative and very friendly. Now the campground it has many things – laundry, cable, clubhouse with game tables, full hookups, horseshoes, pet area, playground, indoor pool, showers, store and Wi-fi. The sites are on gravel and right next to each other and the bathhouse (needs updating), and laundry are right next to the office so it is a walk from some of the sites. This was the most expensive campground we have stayed at in the last two months so I think the rates are high.