After spending a whole two nights in the same campsite it was time to cover some ground! We cruised back through Las Cruces, stopping to sweat and shower at Planet Fitness before going down to El Paso. This seemed to be the smoothest way to Carlsbad Caverns National Monument. We also figured we wouldn’t be this far west in Texas again, so might as well drive through.
El Paso is in a word, windy. We weren’t fans. Our campsite was 5 miles out from the caves and that was windy too. So much so that we cooked our first meal in the van. Harper even escaped to the safety of the vehicle in what we later looked up to be 30+ mph gusts. It looked and felt more apocalyptic than we expected.
The next day we headed off to the caves as soon as the park opened. Little did we know, we were about to stumble into a different planet. The caves were more extraordinary than we’d expected from others who recommended we go there. We threw Harper in the Park Service kennels and took a 2.5 mile hike through the main cave. The natural entrance to the caves hosts an evening bat watch and twists its way down into the large ground hole.
Once in the cave we were greeted with a dimly, but well lit path that kept opening up into bigger and bigger rooms.
The detail and scale of the formations inside are hard to capture on film and must be experienced in person. The cave is equally intriguing because it has no natural water source, so the development of it is unlike most caves.
The Big Room inside is about 6.2 football fields in square footage. The grandeur was incredible!
Here’s an idea of the size of some of the formations; I believe this was called the Witch’s Finger:
While most of the pools in the cave have drained out at this stage in its formation, there is a bit of standing water still inside.
The whole experience lasted about three hours for us and nearly desensitized us to cave formations by the time we were done.
After returning to the surface we found that our dog had escaped her kennel to the dismay of the keepers there. She was contained to the small room they were in and lured back in with some ham only to be locked with eight zip ties but I’m sure an unknown German Shepard gave them a scare. Oops!
Next up Kate insisted that we make our way to Roswell. While there is only maybe half a days worth of entertainment in the town, the enthusiasm toward the alien theme is carried through gas stations and even the local Dominos. Our roommate Doug made an appearance to help out some locals:
And we visited the UFO Museum.
And were visited by some out-of-towners ourselves.
Next up was to finish out our way up north and onto Utah (or so we thought).