Carlsbad Caverns

April 20, 2011
By forrestsp GOLD, Cordova, Tennessee
forrestsp GOLD, Cordova, Tennessee
16 articles 0 photos 0 comments

“... A limestone cavern known as the Carlsbad Cave, of extraordinary proportions and of unusual beauty and variety of natural decoration; ... beyond the spacious chambers that have been explored, other vast chambers of unknown character and dimensions exist; ... the several chambers contain stalactites, stalagmites, and other formations in such unusual number, size, beauty of form, and variety of figure as to make this a cavern equal, if not superior, in both scientific and popular interest to the better known caves ...”

Earth is a mystery reveled and researched by all. Few know what truly lurks in the deep cuts of the Earth -none are human. Carlsbad Caverns -located in “The Land of Enchantment” New Mexico -is such a cut in the Earth. It is a cave system, one of the few that remain virtually preserved yet are able to be entered without needing to go spelunking. Amongst the wondrous features of Carlsbad, much remains invisible to the human eye. Perhaps the naturally formed stalagmites and stalactites are reminders that perhaps humans are not meant to see all the wonders of the Earth.

Carlsbad Caverns is a beauty for the eye to behold that is so magnanimous, that it is difficult to thing that the entire system spawned from just one water droplet. During the Permian age, when all of New Mexico and most of North America was underwater, the location where Carlsbad is now was one huge reef. But the most important part of the creation of the caverns is perhaps the limestone aspect of the caves’ makeup. Because of the easily deteriorated sedimentary rock, the water broke down the reef and rock to create the unique features that Carlsbad boasts. It is as if Michelangelo himself carved the masterpiece out of stone. The specific spots of sedimentary that have been deteriorated by the water are now the empty space that makes the caves.
The stunning stalagmites and stalactites were created in a similar fashion. Stalactites (ceiling hanging), are small particles of limestone residue that the force of gravity has pushed downward. Stalagmites, which are found underlying the counterparts, are simply the drippings of stalactites. The process that created the entire caverns in Carlsbad did not stop there; they are also responsible for the Guadalupe Mountains.
Nature is responsible for this beautiful array of caves and natural beauty, but perhaps a man by the name of James White deserves some credit. White who was an avid explorer of the caverns is greatly credited with popularizing the caves. The romanticized story tells of a young White spelunking the cave systems with his homemade wire ladder. But perhaps he deserves quite a more credit than he is generally given today. Not only did he name almost all of the known caves, but because of White, everybody who goes into the caves is allowed an experience synonymous to his. One of the things that make Carlsbad so great is the fact that it is an interactive national monument, unlike many in the U.S. You can touch the walls, the stalagmites and anything else, and perhaps it is partly in due because it is somewhat permanent. Even The Bookwatch states "Carlsbad Caverns takes both armchair and potential visitors through the wonders of Carlsbad's caves, seeking to present a vicarious experience through excellent interior cave footage and reviews of surrounding park attractions."

The experience of embarking upon perhaps the most majestic cave system in North America is incomparable. Upon entering the cave system, the guest has two choices. One route leads to an elevator to the cave system. The second choice is the guest can walk down 750 feet to get there. It goes without saying that many choose the less strenuous elevator. Though the elevator ride down is a high point to many, it would be a mistake to think the journey stops there. The Big Room, Carlsbad Caverns’ largest cave chamber is not only the third largest in North America, but in the top ten largest cave chambers in the world. The natural limestone is perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of the chamber. Many different active chemical reactions are created each day which form new art in the cave. Carlsbad Caverns is never the same twice.

The features are perhaps the most exhilarating known to mankind. The entrance to Carlsbad is natural and it hangs open as though nature were sticking its hand out for a shake. It is located on a plateau so that rain has little chance of flooding the caves. Though the caves are six dollars per person at the door, it is a price that will be returned ten-fold. One of the most impressive things in the caves, are the elevators. Yes, they are man made, but the chute they go down are natural, and some of the largest caves in the system. What makes the elevator ride so great, it the fact that as one goes down the lighting inside of the elevator lets the guest know where they are in the earths crust. Not only does it show the actual sand, but it also comes with a chart showing the guest at what depth they are –all the way down to the 750 foot exit.
Other interesting man-made features are the Desert loop drive that circles the outside of the monument that allow visitors not only to bask in the greatness of nature inside the caves, but outside as well. Similarly the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Trail allows the guests to experience the outer dwellings of the cave. The Park doesn’t turn a blind eye when it comes to its animals though. One of the greatest things about natural parks, are the ecosystems that exist inside of them and because of them. There are definitely many different ecosystems in the area of Carlsbad Caverns, but they have drastic differences. Many of the animals living outside are desert dwelling animals considering that the monument is in New Mexico. But the ecosystem doesn’t stop there; it extends inward to organisms that don’t like the sunlight, or warmth for that matter. The lower the cave goes down, the more the animals differentiate. There are obviously many different ecosystems, and its all because of some water. The park also exhibits a walking trail around the caves that encompass the effects of New Mexican desert on the caves. The causes and effects between them allow for many different food chain interactions to occur, and the ecosystem stays in a continuous equilibrium.
From one of the most impressive natural creations in the world, what else is suspected but beautiful organisms as impressive as the caves themselves lurking within -bats. Almost twenty differed species of the winged rodents lurk within Carlsbad’s dwellings. Most importantly when President Coolidge’s proclamation established the beautiful location as Carlsbad Cave National Monument on October 25, 1923 it became a safe house for many different species of bats. One of the greatest things about the natural monument is the fact that two thirds of the entire park is reserved for the wildlife. To date due to thermal imaging estimates at the number of bats in Carlsbad are in the 800,000.
One day far from today, new caves will be discovered at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. They may hold new species of insects, mammals, or plants. Some of them may be used to create new medicines that will someday save peoples lives. But not all of the wondrous secrets locked inside the caves will be discovered. Many will try, but perhaps humans aren’t meant to know are the secrets of the Earth. One has to wonder how nature created such a beautiful masterpiece. Perhaps if one drop of water can start such a masterpiece, there is much humans don’t know about the miraculous powers of the Earth.


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