March 28, 2010 – Guadalupe Mountains and Carlsbad Caverns

We left Alpine and headed toward New Mexico.  Our first town we passed through, Mafra which even had a city hall.

Over the next 75 miles, we drive through Valentine (Pop. 217) which has a two-pump gas station, 12’x12′ post office, small library and dentist (we didn’t even see a general store).  Then there was Lobo, whose claim to fame is a pecan grove which extended for over 2 miles along the road.

Through much of the desert, it is interesting how there will be differing vegetation from one side of the road to the other.  

The Guadalupe Mountains (part of a 400 mile formed ocean reef over 250 million years ago)rise abruptly out of the desert.  

There was a long, relatively steep drive up to the Visitor’s Center where we had lunch at a picnic table below two towering Guadalupe and Hunter Peaks, more than 1,000′ above us.

Just forty minutes north, we arrived a Carlsbad Caverns, created from another section of the same reef which created the Guadalupe Mountains.

We took an elevator 750 feet into the earth and emerged into what is called the “Big Room” (8+ acres alone) of a cavern the size of 14 football fields. 

We took the self-guided tour with audio sticks which provided a two dozen information about the cavern at some two dozen locations around the mile loop.

As photography was difficult due to the relative darkness (lit by a finite number of non-intense lights), I am sorry the follow pictures will not do justice to this utterly fantastic park

We stayed last night north of Carlsbad where we luxuriated in the Campground’s hot tub under a full moon.

A picture perfect day ended with a nearly full moon rising over our campground.

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