Description: In 1901, eighteen-year-old cowboy James Larkin White witnessed a moving black cloud over the Chihuahuan Desert of southern New Mexico. Brazilian free-tailed bats were feeding at dawn and dusk, swirling above one of the most spectacular caverns and underground wonder. Today, Carlsbad Caverns National Park is accessible by walking 1.25 miles down a long steep ramp, winding into the cavern’s mouth. Carlsbad is the largest easily accessible cave chamber in North America. Backcountry caves are also accessible for the adventurous, requiring permits and technical caving equipment.
Length: One to two days
The rewards: Our spring break father-son party explored both the famous main cavern and one backcountry cave, which I can’t recommend. Our teenage boys didn’t find the experience of bushwhacking through cactus and up tangled desert trails rewarding. After rappelling into the slit access, we opted for a retreat.
Season: Spring, Fall, Winter