Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Back up and Going -- Carlsbad Cavern Photos

Sometimes when I take a technology time out, it is because I am working on a project.  Other times it is because I am traveling.  This last time it was a little bit of both.

I did drive out to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.  In total I drove 6,125 miles!  Over the next few days I'll post some of my photos.

In addition to going to the Tucson Show, I visited several different geologic sites to get photos for possible future books.  One of the locations I went to for the first time was Carlsbad Caverns.  I've been to several caverns around the country -- this one was one of the best.  Although I was hoping to book one of the spelunking tours, the only ones available were the self-guided tour and the King's Palace Tour.  The latter was only $8.00/person and it was awesome.  We took an elevator down 750 feet to the meeting area, and then walked down another few hundred feet, passing through several different sections of the cavern.

These caverns formed in an ancient reef that originally developed around 250 million years ago.  The reef formations now make up the Guadalupe Mountains that uplifted around 20 million years ago when tectonic activity forced the limestone reef to rise from an inland sea. Over time, sulfuric acid ate away at the rocks, creating caves and underground passageways. Later, rainwater trickled into the caverns, leaving mineral deposits on the walls, floors and ceilings. These deposits eventually built up into rock formations such as stalactites and stalagmites.

Big Cave is the biggest cavern, measuring approximately 3,800 feet long by 600 feet wide. It boasts some of the largest and most colorful rock formations, which are illuminated by white lights. The King's Palace is a series of four chambers, located in the deepest accessible area of the caverns, which contain unusual rippled rock formations known as the Queen's Draperies.

When we were done with the tour, I walked out to the natural opening.  This was the self-guided tour, which I did backwards since I walked up and out.  One of the park rangers told me that only one percent of the over 300,000 visitors per year walk out from the bottom.  I must admit, it was a heck of a climb of nearly 1,000 feet in only 1.25 miles.

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