We returned to Carlsbad Caverns National Park the day following our guided tour of the Lower Cave to explore the Big Room. We entered through the “Natural Entrance”, A 1.2 mile paved path leading down 900 feet into the cave. Visitors not inclined for such a walk can take the elevator, and we had to take the elevator out because they close the gate of the natural entrance at 3:30.
Walking through the Big Room feels unreal. I felt alternately like I was on another planet or that I was in a cartoon, infiltrating the lair of an evil villain. No pictures can express the magnitude of the scale, the intricacy of the formations or the strangeness of walking through this ancient interior where inorganic minerals create organic shapes.
Caves are so a mysterious and difficult to explore, that new cavern rooms are still being discovered. The most recent discovery occurred last Halloween. Some researchers climbed up a rope installed in the middle of the Big Room to enter an area named Sprit World (what a place to visit on the day of spirits!). As they were looking around the room, they noticed an unexplored passage. They went through the passage to discover an unknown room, 100 feet in diameter!
On the drive into the park in the morning, who did we see bicycling up the road but our friend Ralph? Ralph and Helen had just arrived in Carlsbad after stopping in Marfa, TX, and invited us for dinner. They treated us to delicious food (John even got to eat his first steak of the trip, something he doesn’t get from this vegetarian cook), and we had a great time hanging out into the night.