Category Archives: Carlsbad

Carlsbad Caverns National Park


~ Carlsbad, New Mexico USA ~

One of my favorite parks, Carlsbad Caverns was like Disney World to me as a kid growing up in New Mexico. I certainly visited the caves as often as a Florida kid visits said theme park. As a “Rockhound” and Geology buff, I went there often on my own during high school, fascinated by the depths, the stalagtites, columns, and stalagmites. I still share the fascination at this world class cavern never bored on its fantastic features and creatures.

The Cavern is located about 18 miles southwest of Carlsbad in the Guadalupe Mountains of southeastern New Mexico. Anyone viewing the cave can hike in through the natural entrance, or if hiking disabled can take the elevator down to the bottom via the visitor center. The main chamber of the cavern that is the most famous is called “The Big Room” which is 4,000 feet long, 625 feet wide, and 255 feet high – as a large limestone chamber that is recorded as the fifth largest chamber in North America and the 28th largest in the world. There are over 119 caves and caverns in the park of which three are open to the public for tours but the main large show cave is the prime attraction. Slaughter Canyon Cave, New Cave, and Spider Cave are undeveloped with guided adventure caving tours available by reservation. Lechuguilla Cave has a prestine underground environment with delicate speleotems that once was used by guano miners. There have been over 120 miles of cave passages mapped and explored to a depth of 1600 feet.

The caverns were created roughly 250 million years before present when the area was once a coastline for an inland sea. At this time, there was a major reef called the Capitan Reef abundant with corals, sea creatures, and life. There are fossil records of Permian life including bryozoans, sponges, and other micro-organisms. Once the Permian period came and disappeared, most of the water evaporated leaving the reef buried in evaporites, sediments, and sands. There was great Tectonic action during the late Cenozoic which pushed the reef above ground, then it was hit by erosion, which sculpted the Guadalupe Mountains to how they are today.

As the water drained through the bed of limestone it was within the groundwater zone. The petroleum rserves were far beneath the limestones, and during the end of the Cenozoic, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) seeped upwards from the petroleum into the groundwater, combining with oxygen from the groundwater created sulfuric acid which continued upward dissolving the limestone deposits in its path creating caverns. The gypsum in the cave was the bbyproduct of this process when the sulphuric acid combine with the limestone. As the acidic groundwater drained from the caverns, speleothems deposited within the caverns and exposure to the influx of air into the cavern helped carve the caves we see today. As rain water and snow melt entered the cavern, it picked up carbon dioxide and as it reached the cavern ceiling precipitated and evaporated leaving calcium carbonate deposits that would grow dow from the roof as stalagites, this would create stalagmites, columns, soda straws, draperies, helictites, and popcorn features.

The cavern was first discovered by Euro-Americans in 1898 when Jim White, a teenage at the time, made a homemade wire ladder to climb down within – discovering the magical world before him. He assigned names to many of the rooms and features such as the Big Room, Queens Chamber, Papoose Room, Green Lake Room, Kings Palace, and New Mexico Room for the chambers, and Witches Finger, Totem Pole, Temple of the Sun, Fairyland, Rock of Ages, Giant dome, Bottomless Pit, Iceberg Rock for various formations.

Tourists were taken down into the caverns well before 1932 by means of a switchback ramp down to 750 feet and it was in 1932 that the visitor center was opened including an elevator for visitors who wore out easy or had difficulties walking down into the depths. They also built a cafeteria down below, gift shop, and restrooms. Millions of visitors now visit the caverns annually. The Guadalupe Room was discovered in 1966. Additional chambers and rooms were discovered in 1985 when new exploration techniques were invented discovering the chambers known as the Spirit World and the Baloon Ballroom. In 1993 a series of new smaller passages were explored that took the explorers well over a mile further discovering additional rooms outside of the New Mexico Room and being catalogued as “Chocolate High”. The bottom was discovered to the Bottomless Pit at 140 feet deep. In October 2013, a new large chamber was found hundreds of feet aboe the main area of the Spirit World and called “Halloween Hall” at 100 feet diameter with more than 1,000 bat bones on the floor.

They built a bat flight seating area so visitors could watch the bats fly out of the cave each evening with programs included and explanations of what is happening. There are often morning programs as well so that visitors can see the bats return to the cave. Most of the cave’s inhabitants are the Mexican free tailed bats who fly out each evening from the natural entrance to the nearest water sources. There have been recorded over 17 different species of bats in the park. The populations were estimated in the millions but much of the population has declined in recent years due to the use of DDT in the local surroundings by farmers and ranchers.

A recreation area detached from the park called “Rattlesnake Springs” picnic area is a natural oasis as a wooded riparian area in the desert, home to over 300 species of birds. The area is developed with landscaping, wildlife habitats, and picnic tables for visitors.

Rated: 5 of 5 stars. ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

If you would like to contact the author about this review, need a re-review, would like to advertise on this page, or have information to add, please contact us at technogypsie@gmail.com.

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Carlsbad, New Mexico

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad
~ New Mexico USA ~

One of my high school tromping grounds, I often went to Carlsbad for visits to Carlsbad Caverns or Sitting Bull Falls. I probably visited the area as often as a Floridian kid visits Disney World. It is a small city in Eddy County New Mexico that is most famous for its Caverns. In 2010, the Census stated that it had a population of 26,138 residents. It is in the heart of southeastern New Mexico at the intersections of U.S. Routes 62/180 and 285. It is located at the eastern edge of the Guadalupe Mountains, the Lincoln National Forest to its northwest, and has the Pecos River running through it. It is in the northern reaches of the Chihuahuan Desert eco-region in the lower Pecos River Valley.

Besides the caverns, Carlsbad is known for its salt mines, potash mining, petroleum, and tourism. It was originally developed based on agriculture, livestock, irrigation water, and healing mineral springs.

Historically Native Americans resided in the area, but were pushed out with immigrants from Engand, Switzerland, France, and Italy. It was formed as a town on September 15, 1888 and a municipal corporation in 1893 after Charles B. Eddy, co-owner of the Eddy-Bissell Livestock Company. There were commercialization of of local mineral springs near the flume that boasted medicinal properties so they named their town after the famous European spa town called Carlsbad (Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic).

The re-discovery of Carlsbad Caverns, originally called “The Bat Cave” by cowboys in 1901 led to the establishment of Carlsbad Caverns National Park on May 14, 1930. In 1925 potash was discovered near Carlsbad and the region dominated the Aerican potash market for years. After the potash marked crashed in the 1960’s, residents of the area voted for the establishment of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) where low-level nuclear waste would be stored thousands of feet undergroun in salt beds. It was authorized by Congress in 1979 and construction completed in 1980 and first waste shipment arrived in 1999. Today Carlsbad is experiencing an oil and natural gas boom.

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Sitting Bull Falls (Carlsbad, New Mexico)

Sitting Bull Falls
~ Eddy County Rd 409, Lincoln National Forest, Carlsbad, New Mexico USA ~ https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/lincoln/recarea/?recid=34238 ~

This amazing oasis in the middle of the desert outside of Carlsbad New Mexico is amongst my world’s favorite locations and cooling off zones. I grew up with the Cave and the pools from childhood, hanging out there with friends from high school, partying in the pools above, stealthily camping and cave exploring long before there were required permits and restrictive gates or access. It has changed quite a bit, but very much improved for recreation and protecting the natural resources on location. It is a day-use only site. The site has pavilions, picnic tables, water, and restrooms accessible. There are established hiking trails from the site. It is open from 8:30 am until 6 pm with a $5 per vehicle parking fee.

The site is a astonishing dream-like 150′ waterfall than pours over canyon walls with a stalactite/stalagmite filled cavern behind it, dumping down into crystal clear natural swimming pools beneath. It is one of a series of waterfalls found in this canyon lost within the Lincoln National Forest that are spring fed through a series of streams and pools until reaching its drop-off. Most of the river’s water disappears into cracks, gravel, and bedrock and reappears in springs further down the canyon eventually joining the Pecos Valley underwater aquifer.

The geology of the area is a remnant reef system known as the Capitan Great Barrier Reef dating from the Permian period around 250 million years ago when the region was the edge of an inland sea. The name of the falls has never been proven, but legend has it that the cave behind the falls was used by Sitting Bull to hide. The Apache called the area “gostahanagunti” meaning “hidden gulch”. In 1940, the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed number of stone buildings that are now part of the parking lot and picnic area. THere is a time capsule dated March 24, 1999 embedded into one of the buildings. The park was closed from APril 27, 2011 through April 6, 2012 after wildfires in the are destroyed the area making it unsafe.

There are numerous sacred pools above the falls which are great for swimming in. In order to explore the cave behind the waterfall or any of the other caves in the area, one needs proper equipment and obtain a permit.

The site is easy to get to, though quite a distance from Carlsbad so be ready for some bumpy dirt roads. Take US highway 285 north from Carlsbad, turn west on NM 137 for 20 miles to county road 409, turn right and continue to the site. Another turn-off is right across the highway from the turn-off to Bradford Lake State Park.

Another family’s video of caving in the cave: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWWj5Z7iy_I

Rated: 5 of 5 stars. ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

If you would like to contact the author about this review, need a re-review, would like to advertise on this page, or have information to add, please contact us at technogypsie@gmail.com.

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Brantley Lake State Park (Carlsbad, New Mexico)

Brantley Lake State Park
~ 33 West Brantley Lake Road, Carlsbad, New Mexico 88220 USA * (575) 457-2384 * https://www.newmexico.org/listing/brantley-lake-state-park/2089/ ~

Just 12 miles north of the city of Carlsbad, New Mexico is a large 4,000 acre lake and dam called Brantley Lake. The State Park around its edges hosts a day use area, boat ramp, picnicking tables, rest rooms, playground, grills, and campground. The campground has 51 developed campsites with electricity, water, shower facilities, playground, visitor center, and other amenities. Brantley Lake is a man-made reservoir formed when Brantley Dam was erected across the Pecos River in the 1980’s. It is the southernmost lake in New Mexico and is very popular picnicking, camping, fishing, boating, and water recreation site. The lake is stocked with white bass, bass, walleye, catfish, bluegill, carp and crappie. As of 2018 the State Parks Department does not recommend eating fish from the lake for there was detected high levels of DDT in the fish tested. The campground and day use site can e reached via U.S. 295 by going northeast 4.5 miles down Eddy County Road 30.

We visited in June of 2018. The sites were great though a fire ban prevented use of campfires and grills. High winds nearly broke our 10 x 10 shade structure, so make sure to tie down well. From the campground we had hoped the Lake Loop would take us down to the Lake’s shore, but it didn’t. It was an interesting walk none-the-less. Playground was great, my son had a blast there. At the point of our visit the campground hosts were state troopers so we definitely felt safe.

Rated: 3 of 5 stars. Visited 6/25-6/26/2018. ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

If you would like to contact the author about this review, need a re-review, would like to advertise on this page, or have information to add, please contact us at technogypsie@gmail.com.

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