Wednesday, September 22 - Another L – O – N – G day of being a tourist. Started out at the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park in Carlsbad, NM.
Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park is an indoor/outdoor living museum displaying more than
40 native animal species and hundreds of succulent plants from around the world.
This is way more than worth the $5 entrance fee. Zillions of desert cactus and plants with little labeling signs.
This is just a sample of the garden section of the park. It was overcast and rainy, but it didn’t over power the beauty of the gardens.
With the unusual high amount of rain this spring and summer, everything in the desert grew huge and had gigantic flowers.
Add to that tons of animals like bison, elk, bob cats, prairie dogs, rattlers, spiders, and badgers.
Who might this be?
This badger entertained us for a while with all his scratching.
As soon as this Gopher snake saw us at the window, he came out to greet us.
A Priarie Dog isn’t related in the least with the dog family. It gets its name from the bark sound they make. Now you know the rest of the story.
They had a building called “Succulents of the World” Awesome plants of the desert.
And on top of all that, a beautiful mountain top setting. A fabulous 2-hour visit!
See more of our pictures of the Desert Garden and Zoo here.
We then headed to Carlsbad Caverns. Another WOW! WOW! WOW! We took the natural entrance which consisted of a 1.5 mile walk down switch-back trails. We highly recommend this entrance over the elevator because it it way less crowded.
Many times we were practically alone on the trail. This is one of those experiences that is indescribable and that pictures just don't do the view justice. It is over-whelmingly amazing!!
We spent 2-hours with the natural entry to the cavern.
Tight squeeze in some areas.
We finally came to the Big Room where the number of people increased dramatically. This is where the elevator brings people down and returns almost everyone to the surface. Interesting, the only people we saw walking up the natural entry were park rangers. It would be a grueling hike!
Even though the number of people in the Cavern increased, the views were every bit as delightful. The Park Service has done a wonderful job providing a paved walkway with excellent handrails. The lighting is very dramatic.
Interesting info about the Big Room.
The limestone rock that holds Carlsbad Cavern is full of ocean fossil plants and animals from a time before the dinosaurs when the southeastern corner of New Mexico was a coastline similar to the Florida Keys.
A beautiful pool of water below.
After an additional 1.5 hours (total of 3.5 hours in the Cavern) and an approximate 3 mile hike, we took the elevator 820 feet to the surface. We viewed a movie on other caves in the Carlsbad Park and walked through the gift shop.
Paul wanted to see what he would look like if he were a Ranger. The verdict is still out.
We decided to stay for the six o'clock bat flight. We had some time to kill, so we shared the luncheon special in the restaurant and relaxed (read as: Paul napped) in the car for about an hour. About 5 p.m. we headed back to the natural entry to the Cavern to watch the bats fly out for the nightly feeding. After about 30 minutes a ranger announced that due to lightning in the area the evening activities are cancelled and everyone must leave the park.....darn! Disappointed but being on top of a mountain during an electrical storm isn't very wise, so everyone packed up and headed down the road. Maybe we'll catch the bat flight tomorrow night?
See more of our pictures of Carlsbad Caverns here.
Oh, by the way…The Carlsbad Caverns accept the America the Beautiful Senior Pass (age 62+) so we took advantage of FREE admission! It also allows free admission to all activities for the next three days for the cardholder and three other people. One of the few advantages of being 62 I guess.
Driving through downtown Carlsbad proved interesting. Due to the storm and the lack of storm drains in desert towns, the streets were flooded! I was a little nervous driving through such deep water – seemed a foot deep at most intersections. Most of the people driving were in pick-up trucks. Our Jeep Liberty sit higher than a regular car and handled the situation without any problem....whew!
Thanks for stopping by. Have a great day! Hope to see y’all back real soon.