As promised, here are some of the other photos that I took during our trip to Carlsbad Caverns. After walking the 1.25 trail through the Natural Entrance, we decided to take the 1 mile self-guided tour through the Big Room. The name is not a misnomer--the Big Room is immense and just over eight acres in size.
The route is relatively flat and easy to traverse with a great deal of features to see along the way; I chuckled quite a bit at the optical illusion used to label the Mirror Lake.
There were monumental rock formations nearly everywhere you looked, all lit to dramatic effect. I bumped up my ISO as high as it could go and did the best that I could with the light that I had, but I was still kicking myself for not packing my speed light.
Throughout the cavern were remnants of old paths, stairways and ladders left over from the early-twentieth-century explorers who braved the caves without modern luxuries such as electricity and marked and paved trails.
For the more adventurous types, there are other guided tours that one can take when visiting Carlsbad Caverns that range from the lantern-lit Left-hand tunnel to the strenuous (and claustrophobia-inducing) Spider Cave, which is described as a three-dimensional maze cave where excessive crawling and climbing ensues, but they're limited to certain ages and only available at specific times each day.
By the time we finished the Big Room tour, Sammy was starting to nod off, so John and I made our way over to the elevators and waited for the 75-story ascent to the surface, which took approximately one minute to complete. We did a little souvenir shopping and then enjoyed a nice late lunch in the park's cafe. Bellies full, we then got back in the car and returned to El Paso; I have a feeling that there will definitely be more visits out to the Carlsbad Caverns in our future--one trip won't be enough!