In April, Jason and I hit the road through New Mexico (with a short detour into Texas) to visit some National Parks. Traveling for fun again feels great, although I have been traveling for work since October of last year. Things are different, how could they not be? But planning ahead for the trip is key!
We flew into Albuquerque and rented a car for the week. Our first stop was Las Cruces so we could explore White Sands National Park. We visited on a rather stormy day with high winds and clouds looming; it felt a bit like being on another planet. The sand was blowing fiercely and I didn’t take as many pictures as I would have liked but we had fun!
Continuing our journey, we drove about 3 hours to Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Just over the Texas border, this is home to the highest mountain range in the area, including Guadalupe Peak at 8,751 feet. There are many hiking trails, which we weren’t prepared for 😉 but enjoyed the scenery.
The park also has the ruins of a stagecoach stop for America’s first mail service in 1858 that ran from Missouri to California. Just think about traversing this rough and desolate terrain via horse and buggy!
A short 30 minute drive from Guadalupe Mountains and we were at the Carlsbad Caverns. The landscape is deserted, except for a few bighorn sheep.
We booked tickets a week before our visit, a new protocol due to COVID for limited entry. We chose to hike down into the caves, instead of taking the elevator. It’s a short 1.25 mile steep downhill hike, mostly in the dark but totally worth it! We did take the elevator back up though 😉 There are 120 known caves in the area but that number will continue to grow as exploration continues. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like discovering this natural wonder!
The main cavern is more than 30 miles long and the park service has created walking paths for 3 miles that are open to visitors. The “Big Room” is 8.2 acres and is the largest, accessible cave chamber in North America. The deepest section is 1,027 feet below-ground. There are also some 500,000 bats that reside in the cave, which can swell to one million during migration. These bats were actually the reason the caves were discovered, as they were seen flying out of the opening en masse.
Fair warning, photos absolutely do not do this justice!
Thanks for following along!