Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Carlsbad New Mexico

We left Texas today and drove into New Mexico to Carlsbad and stayed at the KOA Campground just north of Carlsbad. Our first time visiting the Carlsbad Cavern National Park and we were very impressed. We were lucky because the elevator wasn’t working so there were not as many tourists going down into the cavern. It is an incomparable realm of gigantic subterranean chambers, fantastic cave formations, and extraordinary features. We did the Natural Entrance Route, a 1.25-mile, self-guided tour that follows the traditional explorer’s route. We entered the cavern through the large historic natural entrance and descended 750 feet into the Earth, following steep and narrow trails through a tall spacious trunk passage called the Main Corridor. As we descended this route we saw the Bat Cave, Devil’s Spring, Green Lake Overlook and the Boneyard, a complex maze of dissolved, Swiss cheese-like limestone rock. We continued on the Big Room Route and passed many large features like the Bottomless Pit, Giant Dome, and Painted Grotto. The 8.2 acre Big Room is a must-see. Then it was time to ascend back up through the Main Corridor and up the switchbacks to the large natural entrance. What an impressive work of nature’s underground beauty, that began around 15-20 million years ago. Click on thumbnail to view image

Artesia, NM

From Carlsbad we drove north to visit the town of Artesia, New Mexico. Its history dates back to the 1880s when homesteaders came to the area attracted by the promise of plentiful water supplies by the artesian water system. The town was named Artesia in 1903, and officially incorporated in 1905. Today, Artesia is supported by the oil and gas industry, farming and ranching. The Cattle Drive series of bronze statues throughout the town represents and honors the ranching industry that began in the late 1800s, and was significant to the development of Artesia, these are the Trail boss, the Vaquero, and the Rustler. The spirit of the pioneer woman is honored with a fourth bronze statue, this is Sallie Chisum, her accomplishments as an entrepreneur, developer and businesswoman led her to be known posthumously as the First Lady of Artesia. The many  larger-than-life bronze statues relates directly to their history as well as their future, and tells their story. It was fun walking along the streets of the town and gazing at the beautiful bronze work that tells the history of Artesia through art. We stopped inside the Public Library to see the 30-foot windowed wall mural by Peter Hurd. The mural, approximately 15 feet tall by 47 feet long, is elevated 9 feet from the library floor, secured by steel columns where it may be seen from the inside and outside the building. The mural reads “The Future Belongs to Those Who Prepare for It”, appropriate phrase for a library. Click on thumbnail to view image

Roswell, NM

We went to the town of Roswell, New Mexico, renowned as the site of an alleged 1947 UFO crash, and the town became famous ever since. It is now called the Roswell UFO incident, even though the crash site was 75 miles away. Today, there are many alien-themed stores that are popular for attracting tourists to Roswell. In 1978-79 and 2002, Roswell was named one of the All-American cities. We visited the Roswell Museum and Art Center, featuring exhibits about the art and history of the American southwest. The photos below are all from this museum, as it was very impressive. We also stopped in at the international UFO Museum and Research Center  for a brief tour. Click on thumbnail to view image

Sitting Bull Falls

On our last day in Carlsbad we drove southwest of the city to visit Sitting Bull Falls located in the Lincoln National Forest. The falls are fed by springs located in the canyon above, and unfortunately there was not a lot of water flowing over the 150-foot falls into the canyon below. We walked the trail to the springs above the falls, and to the area around the bottom of the falls where wading and swimming are allowed. There is a nice picnic area with covered picnic tables, fire grills, and water, built by the CCC in 1940. An oasis in the desert. Click on thumbnail to view image

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

We drove back into Texas to visit the Guadalupe Mountains NP. Guadalupe Mountains National Park is in the vast Chihuahuan Desert of western Texas. It’s known for its bright-white Salt Basin Dunes, wildlife-rich grassland and fossilized reef mountains. After touring around and visiting the Visitor Center we started our hike to the Devils’s Hall Trail which is a 4.2 mile round trip hike through a dry stream bed in Pine Spring Canyon. This scenic canyon will bring you to Hiker’s Staircase, which then leads to the narrow canyon known as Devil’s Hall. After the hike we visited ruins of the old Overland Stagecoach stop then the first farm house in the area. Click on thumbnail to view image