Carlsbad Caverns
                 Student Papers in Geology
Cochise College          

Geology Home Page                         

Roger Weller, geology instructor

wellerr@cochise.edu

by Timothy Lee
Physical Geology
Fall 2016  
 
                                                                                

          Carlsbad Cavern National Park

Basic Information & Description

     Carlsbad Caverns National Park is located in the Guadalupe Mountains along the
Texas/New Mexico border. The national park consists of 46,766 acres of land and
includes a large cave chamber known as The Big Room, that is made up of a natural
limestone chamber that is almost 4,000 feet long, 626 feet wide, and 255 feet high
at its highest point. These impressive numbers consider the chamber to be the fifth
largest in North America and the twenty-eighth largest in the world.
 

Image result for carlsbad caverns new mexico us
 

     The Big Room consists of stalactites, which are types of formations that hang from the ceiling
of the cave. Stalagmites, which are rock formations that occurs from the floor due to the
accumulation of material deposited on the floor from ceiling drippings. Columns, which are the
result of a Stalagmite and stalactite meeting together.

Image result for carlsbad caverns columns
 

     Soda straws, which are the formations of a hollow mineral cylindrical tube that grow where
water leaches slowly through cracks in rock. A Soda Straw can eventually form into a stalactite.  
Draperies are thin, wavy sheets of calcite hanging downward.  Helictites, which are made up of
needle-form calcite and aragonite and popcorn which are clusters of nodules that grow on
bedrock or the sides of other speleothems and each individual nodule can range from 5-20 mm.

Image result for carlsbad caverns

Carlsbad Cavern National Park has two historic districts on the National Register of Historic Places,
The Cavern Historic District and the Rattlesnake Springs Historic District and the park museum
includes the park archives that contains approximately one million cultural resource artifacts that
are being preserved and protected. Human activities such as prehistoric and historic American
Indian occupations, European exploration and settlement, industrial exploitation, commercial and
cavern accessibility development and tourism have left reminders of their presence and have
contributed to the rich and diverse history of the area.

 

Entrance

To enter The Big Room there is two options. A person may use an elevator that starts from inside
the visitor center and descends 754 feet in a little over a minute to reach their destination. Or a
person may choose to travel the same distance by foot using a trail system that descends
downwards to the Big Room. If visitors plan on entering by foot, make a brief walk in the desert
that eventually brings them to a huge opening in the plateau. They are then greeted by a zigzag
pattern trail going downwards and may have an encounter with a colony of Mexican free-tail bats.  
The Big Room itself consists of a 1.25 mile circular path that brings the visitors to one side of the
chambers and back along the other.

Image result for carlsbad caverns entrance

Side -Caves
 

     Upon entering or exiting the Big Room, there consists of smaller scenic side-caves
that are just as amazing as the Big Room itself. There are four separate chambers
that are accessible from the cave near the elevator. These chambers are known as
Kings Palace.

Image result for carlsbad caverns kings palace

     This is the deepest part of the cavern that is currently opened to the public. The
Left Hand Tunnel is a lantern-lit passageway featuring fossils, cave pools and delicate
speleotherms. The Lower Cave branches off the Big Room and on a vast lower level,
it is considered to have just as amazing sites as the Big Room. And The Hall of the White
Giant is a more remote section of the cavern that contains a huge white stalagmite.
This site however requires an additional $20 person.

Things to Know & Bring

     Prior to planning your trip to Carlsbad Cavern in New Mexico, visitors are required
to purchase an entrance ticket. Adults over the age of 16 are required to pay $15 while
children 15 and under are free. Although the National Park is located in the
Chihuahuan Deseret in southeast New Mexico and temperatures can get up to in the
low 100s, it is recommended that visitors bring a light jacket or sweater as the year-
round temperatures in the cave is 56 degrees Fahrenheit. Flash photography in the
cave is permitted as well as canes and walking sticks. However baby strollers are not
permitted in the cave. During the winter (Labor Day to the day before Memorial Day)
the last chance for a walk-in entry to the cave is 2:30 PM and the last elevator entry to
the cave is 3:30 PM. During the summer (Memorial Day to the day before Labor Day) the
last walk-in entry to the cave is 3:30 PM and the last elevator entry to the cave is 5 PM.
The Visitor Center during the winter is opened every day from 8:00 AM 5:00 PM and
during the summer they are opened every day from 8:00 AM 7:00 PM. The cave is opens
30 minutes after the visitor center and closes 30 minutes before the visitor center.


 

Works Cited


 

"Carlsbad Caverns National Park." Roadtrippers. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

https://roadtrippers.com/us/carlsbad-nm/nature/carlsbad-caverns-national-park

"King's Palace (Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM): Top Tips Before You Go - TripAdvisor."
King's Palace (Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM): Top Tips Before You Go - TripAdvisor.
N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g143018-d116489-Reviews-King_s_Palace-Carlsbad_Caverns_National_Park_New_Mexico.html

United States. National Park Service. "Things To Know Before You Come." National Parks Service.
U.S. Department of the Interior, n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

https://www.nps.gov/cave/planyourvisit/things2know.htm

United States. National Park Service. "Basic Information." National Parks Service.
U.S. Department of the Interior, n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

https://www.nps.gov/cave/planyourvisit/basicinfo.htm

United States. National Park Service. "History & Culture." National Parks Service.
U.S. Department of the Interior, n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

https://www.nps.gov/cave/learn/historyculture/index.htm

"Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico - National Parks - TravelChannel.com."
Travel Channel. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

http://www.travelchannel.com/interests/national-parks/articles/carlsbad-caverns-national-park-new-mexico

Southwest, The American. "Carlsbad Caverns National Park."
Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

http://www.americansouthwest.net/new_mexico/carlsbad_caverns/national_park.html
 

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