Day 75 - Truly Cavernous

Trip Start May 19, 2008
Trip End Nov 08, 2008

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Where I stayed
Brantley Lake State Park

Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Friday, August 1, 2008

We were away from the site for 8.30 before the flies got really annoying. Just over an hour's drive south we arrived at the camp site we had selected for tonight, Brantley Lake State Park, 12 miles north of Carlsbad. Being Friday we decided to reserve a pitch to come back to later rather than just turn up later and the site be full. That done we continued south through the city of Carlsbad and another 25 or so miles further south arrived at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

The best way to see the caverns is by taking the Natural Entrance route, descending over 750 feet below ground on foot using the historic natural entrance. The trail is about a mile long, taking you through a network of gigantic subterranean chambers, cave formations and extraordinary stalactitic and stalagmitic features. In fact the Carlsbad caverns are the biggest in the western hemisphere. The "Big Room" alone is 8.2 acres! The temperature underground is an almost constant 56'F and gave us a welcome break from the heat above ground. Not so welcome were the hundreds of bats that live inside the cave's entrance. The caverns have been nicely lit and the trails through them done sympathetically. All in all we were very impressed, the caverns were even more spectacular than we had expected them to be.

We were underground for around two hours and really noticed the change in temperature when we emerged again. On our way back to the camp site we stopped off at Sonic in Carlsbad for an ice cream only to be told that they had sold out! Nightmare! Luckily McDonalds was next door so we had to resort to McFlurrys instead. Feeling slightly cooler, we headed back to the site, although the coolness was short-lived as not only was the temperature hot, the wind was hot too.

Back at the site we cooled down under the shade of our sun shelter and then enjoyed a nice dinner cooked outside on the camp grill.

Miles travelled: 160

Total miles travelled: 6737

Days on road: 55

States visited: 11

National Parks visited: 11
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