Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico with stalactites, stalagmites, and an incredible variety of other formations began over 500,000 years ago. It happened slowly, drip by drip. 

In the late 1800's. Young 16 year old cowboy, Jim White, discovered the main cave when he noticed thousands of bats rising up out of the ground at dusk. He entered the natural entrance on a rope with a lantern and the rest is history. Early on the cave was mined for guano (bat poop) as a natural fertilizer. 

In 1923 Carlsbad caverns was proclaimed a national monument. In 1930 it became a national park.  

After a 1995 National Geographic article the site was designated a World Heritage site with over 100 other caves spanning 146,766 acres. 

Cave scientists and experienced cave explorers have received permission to explore these other caves and their ecosystems. They are not open to the public. 

Ray Davis, an early photographer, accompanied Jim White into the cave. They entered by guano buckets! Today there is a paved walkway with railings. 

Ray Davis, an early photographer, accompanied Jim White into the cave. They entered by guano buckets! Today there is a paved walkway with railings. 

Barb and Russ outside the natural entrance to the cave. 

Barb and Russ outside the natural entrance to the cave. 

This amphitheater was built for tourists to sit and watch the Mexican free-tail bats emerge from the cave every evening at dusk in the summer months. The bats are vacationing in Mexico for the winter. Notice the black hole in the center; that is the natural entrance to the cave. 

This amphitheater was built for tourists to sit and watch the Mexican free-tail bats emerge from the cave every evening at dusk in the summer months. The bats are vacationing in Mexico for the winter. Notice the black hole in the center; that is the natural entrance to the cave. 

I took this photo from inside the entrance looking up toward the amphitheater. 

I took this photo from inside the entrance looking up toward the amphitheater. 

Lure of the unknown

Lure of the unknown

Stalactites

Stalactites

Billions and billions of drops later; a natural work of art

Billions and billions of drops later; a natural work of art

"The Whales Mouth" 

"The Whales Mouth" 

Approaching Guadalupe National park

Approaching Guadalupe National park

A record breaking day for us! 

A record breaking day for us! 

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