Our first stop in New Mexico was Carlsbad Caverns.

I had heard so much about this attraction, including that it’s sometimes referred to as the eighth natural wonder of the world. My brother had been there several years ago, and when he heard we were returning home through New Mexico, he highly recommended that we stop there. It was definitely on my New Mexico bucket list.

We arrived at 1:15 in the afternoon and learned that the largest cavern, “The Big Room”, was open for either guided or self-guided tours. “The King’s Palace”, was sold out and all of the other caverns open to tourists were currently flooded. Aside from “The Big Room”, all other tours are park ranger guided tour only. We were ok with that, as from what we had read and heard, “The Big Room” was the one we wanted to see anyways. The cost of admission was $15 each. Because we’re Canadian, we didn’t qualify for any other perks, such as seniors rates, but we were ok with that too. Any of the other tours are an additional cost on top of general admission.

We had two options for our self-guided tour. We could either take the elevator directly from the visitor centre down to the cavern, or we could walk to the natural entrance, which was how the cavern was discovered in 1898. Of course, I preferred the walk and the experience of the natural entrance, and hubs agreed.

My feature photo is of hubs walking towards a platform (you can see it centre left in the photo) where a ranger provided information about accessing the cave via the “big walk down”. Hubs has been having knee issues for the past couple of years, so he found the walk just to the ranger to be tiring. The ranger told us that we now had over an hour’s walk down to the natural entrance and that the walk through the cave would be at least an hour and a half.

I took one look at hubs and the decision was a no-brainer. We’d walk back the mostly uphill path to take the elevator down.

I wasn’t only worried about hubs’ knee but also his heart. He had suffered a massive cardiac arrest 15 years ago, which left him with considerable heart damage and resulting reduced stamina for physical activity.

When we advised the park ranger of our decision, he agreed because he said he had watched hubs struggling to progress to even this point. He said they have had to rescue people from the cave in the past, but they prefer not to, because the only way to get someone out is via wheelchair to the elevator.

When we arrived at the elevator, we learned that it would take us 750 feet down!

To be continued …

Photo Note: Besides resizing, all I did in post processing was to do a minor white balance correction. The bright sun overhead at this time of day isn’t usually conducive to good photos, but this time, the landscape seemed to be enhanced by it

“Trust your instincts, and make judgements on what your heart tells you. The heart will not betray you.”

David Gemmell