Saturday, November 19, 2011

Under the Dirt

Carlsbad Cavern EntryEntering Carlsbad Caverns is like walking down in to a never before discovered pharaoh’s tomb--dark, mysterious and filled with “jewels” and unusual “artifacts”.   Only much more unique and awe-inspiring.  This “tomb” or Carlsbad Cavern extends for miles with each turn presenting gravity-defying formations above, bottom-less pits twisting deep, and delicate jewels formed on the walls all around.  The 750-foot descent switches back and forth until you reach the Big Room.

Carlsbad Cavern #4prambanan-1The Big Room is over a mile of winding paved trail or 14 football fields.  Immense.  If you visited an alien planet, I am certain this is what you would see.  With stalactites reaching down to touch their resulting stalagmites, it makes you wonder if a similar sight inspired Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling—almost a touch between the two.   Or did the intricate columns with their finely carved layers in the Cavern inspire the architects of Southeast Asian temples? 

Carlsbad Cavern #1Always the continuous drip, drip from the 370-foot ceiling overhead.  Very few people on the tour today and often we were alone.  Only the sound of water and our hushed whispers excitedly talking about what we were seeing in front of us.

imageRather than climb back up, a quick elevator ride deposits everyone in the visitor center.  Walking out the front doors and looking topside, it is hard to imagine deep below the scruffy desert surface is another world.

This visit is definitely on our short list of must-see natural wonders and should be on yours, too.   We are so lucky to experience something like this.

[Note:  Photographs courtesy of Carlsbad Cavern National Park website.  Taking photographs in this dark environment requires a tripod and we wanted to enjoy the self-guided tour without the hassle.  The lighting in the pictures is all artificial—no natural light—requires special settings and a very steady base.]

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