There is a city in New Mexico, close to the Texan boarder that is way more interesting that one might imagine a city in the desert to be, save of course for notable exceptions like Moab or Las Vegas. Carlsbad is a growing city, city of students, but most known for the caverns that are scattered all over the Guadalupe mountains. This broken ring of mesas that circles through New Mexico and Texas once used to be a reef, which riding through the flat, desert valley, looking at them in the distance is just an amazing thought to imagine.
I CouchSurfed in Carlsbad with a lovely couple, Peter and Kathy. They are veterans of the CS community and welcomed me graciously. Peter is an excellent cook, something Kathy and I gladly enjoyed for my two days there. Kathy works at the University and every weekend they try to escape the 100+ head of the city and take their 34 foot motor home in the higher altitudes. Peter and Kathy were the perfect hosts and I thank them for their hospitality.
So at Peter's wise suggestion, I spent an extra day in Carlsbad just to have enough time to see the caverns. And the extra time sure was useful. The park is located almost an hour out of the city, highway most of the way except once you enter the mountains. From the top where the ticket office is you have a wonderful vista of the valley bellow that once used to be an ocean.
I did the self guided tour which costs only $6. This means you go down the path of the cave on your own and are free to take as much time as you’d like. There are plenty of rangers roaming inside the cave so any questions are easily answered. And for photographers, this options is the best due to the long exposure time necessary to capture the glory of the incredible cave.
Enjoy the pictures bellow. Keep an eye out for tiny humanly figures in many of the photos so as to have an idea of scale. The caverns are in some places wide enough to fit a 747 jetliner. The place is very tall and wide and full of incredibly interesting formations of all kinds.
If you see one cave system in your lifetime, this would arguable be a great contender for the best one out there that's easily accessible and full of amenities for any need.