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Carlsbad Caverns, NM

30 years ago we visited the Carlsbad Caverns with our kids.  We finally decided for a revisit, and although the cave hasn’t changed much,  the path system has been greatly improved.  We walked the entire open area and were awed by the size and scenic impact of the caverns.

Early explorers had a hard time, using only torches and rather rickety ropes and wire ladders to visit the various rooms and chambers.  And the ground was rough and rock strewn making for difficult explorations.

Until 1932, visitors to the cavern had to walk down a switchback ramp that took them 750 feet (230 m) below the surface. The walk back up was tiring for some. In 1932 the national park opened up a large visitor center building that contained two elevators that would take visitors in and out of the caverns below. The new center included a cafeteria, waiting room, museum and first aid area.

The park contains over 119 caves.  Three caves are open to public tours. Carlsbad Caverns is the most famous and is fully developed with electric lights, paved trails, and elevators. Slaughter Canyon Cave and Spider Cave are undeveloped, excepted for designated paths for the guided “adventure” caving tours.