Park Number: 32/59
First Visited: July 4, 2012
Cave systems, to me—after visiting several in succession—tend to become indistinguishable and monotonous. Carlsbad is different though.
Carlsbad has such unique formations—and such a plethora of them too. The Big Room is, simply put, amazing. I mean, you could spend hours circling the loop of this self-guided tour, marveling at the grotesque and beautiful evolution of dripping water. But there are other ranger-led tours as well; I would recommend the King’s Palace.
The unique attractions don’t stop at the formation either. There is a cafeteria built right in the middle of the cave, which is odd in itself, considering the National Park Service’s policy on unnecessary infrastructure, but this thing has been there for decades. The debate over its removal recommences every year.
Another must-see attraction is the bat flight. If you catch this on a good night, you can sit and watch thousands of bats leave the mouth of the cave, swirling and disappearing on the horizon, in a mass exodus for food.