Carlsbad Cavern National Park

Carlsbad Cavern National Park
 

The month of February was a fun one. We spent most of our time in New Mexico which was the perfect time of year to visit. The days were warm and the nights were cold, and since it was still winter, most places we visited weren't crowded at all. 

We had just wrapped up the busy holidays with family in Florida, followed by some time in Texas boondocking on the beach, exploring Austin, and meeting up with some friends. We were ready for some true off-grid, out in the middle of nowhere camping. The solitude we were looking for was in the middle of the desert on some BLM land just outside Whites City, NM. The Guadalupe Mountains were in the distance, cows grazed around us during the day, and the sunsets in the evening were colorfully perfect. 

 

Carlsbad Cavern National park was only a 30 minute drive from campsite so it was one of the first stops. This was, by far, one of my favorite National Parks we visited this year. You start your visit at the welcome center where you can learn about the creation of the caves that began almost 300 million years ago. It's part of an ancient fossil bed from a sea that used to cover the area. From the welcome center, you take a short walk to the mouth of the cave where a winding path slowly descends 750 feet into the ground. 

We did the Natural Entrance Trail which is just over a mile of walking down into the cave and then walked the Big Room Trail, a 1.25 mile loop through a massive cavern with all sorts of beautiful cave formations. The park rangers encourage everyone to whisper and very few other guests meant the cave was wonderfully silent. The temperature is a consistent, comfortable 55 degrees and there aren't any snakes or creepy things to worry about, so it's probably the most comfortable National Park experience out there. No blazing heat, no bugs, and no loud people. After the two trails, we took the elevator back up to the visitor center. I loved this park so much that we returned a couple days later to walk the same paths a second time.

Also near our campsite, about 30 minutes in the opposite direction, was Guadalupe Mountains National Park. GMNP is a diverse park that features mountains and canyons and deserts and dunes. We hiked a trail through McKittrick Canyon that lead to a spring-fed stream. The stream flows year-round and allows the canyon to become a green woodland oasis in the middle of the desert.

We only intended to stay in this area for a week but we extended it to two. We made a few repairs; Alex stripped out old caulk and replaced it with new. I cleaned all of the mildew off the window seals. We wanted to start preparing to be stationary for the summer. We landed jobs at a whitewater rafting outfit in Tennessee for the summer and knew we should do any RV maintenance now before our new jobs began March 1st. We also tried night photography for the first time. The photos didn't turn out so great but it does give an idea of how immense the night sky was in the desert.