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Trip 10, Park 3: Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Wow, wow, wow!! Carlsbad Caverns is an amazing place! The caverns are about 750 feet deep and can be accessed either by elevator or by hiking the natural entrance trail. Advance reservations are required to enter the caverns, even for the self-guided tour. We opted to hike the steep trail and it was so worth it! In addition to entering through the mouth of the cave where the bats enter and exit during the summer months, there were a lot of really interesting formations all along the trail as we made our way to the main cavern area, called the Big Room.

Once you reach the main area of the caverns, the Big Room trail (about 1.25 miles long) leads through the formations of the caverns. We also did a ranger-guided tour of the King's Palace, with ornate-looking stalactites, and the Queen's Chamber, which had formations that looked like draperies. During our tour, the ranger gave us the opportunity to experience the cave without the lights darkness!! Fully exploring the caverns that are open to the public and completing the tour took about 3 1/2 hours, although we opted to take the elevator to the surface, rather than hiking up the steep trail.

Since we finished with the caverns by early afternoon and decided not to hike any of the nearby trails, we opted to drive to Roswell, NM, about 1 1/2 hours away to check out the town (UFO Central!) and stop at a local brew pub called Black Cock Brewery. To our disappointment, they did not have any of their own beers on tap, just ciders. I did try their lemonade cider and found it to be very good!

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