State: New Mexico
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Where we stayed: Whites City RV Park
We stayed at the only rv park in the area - Whites City RV. Our first mistake was to pull in after dark to a place we had never been before. After making a wrong turn which led to a little offroading in the rv (holding on hoping we wouldn't tip over during each bump), a few phone calls to the office and the use of my handy dandy cell phone flashlight feature, we found our way into a campsite. If you are only going to be in town for a couple days and plan to just go to the caverns, then this is the place to stay. It's about an eight mile drive to the visitor center. We did drive drive twenty miles to the town of Carlsbad, NM to do some grocery shopping. It was the saddest Albertson's I had ever been to, and driving through I was happy not to be staying in town.
Our first day in town, Matt took the big kids on a special 5 hour tour of Slaughter Canyon Cave. A deal at $7.50 for each kid. This tour was an hour's drive from the visitor center, requried a hike to the cave and then they spent about two hours in an unlit cave (they wore headlamps to see). Unfortunately for Emmett the Explorer, the minimum age was eight, so he had to stay home with me doing laundry. A huge thumbs up from Matt and the kids.
The giant elevator that takes visitors down to the bottom of the cavern has been broken for months. Apprently, there aren't many giant elevator repair guys in town. So the park is currently allowing guests in for free. To see the cavern, one has to walk down this steep zig zag trail (no wheelchairs or strollers). From this entrance to the Big Room (appx 1.25 miles down the trail into the cave), you'll be walking down the equivalent of 79 stories. So be sure to save some energy because you'll be climbing back up and out the same way. Don't worry, Emmett made it, so you can too! Oh, and if you are here during the summer months, you can sit right outside this entrance at sunset and watch thousands of bats come flying out to find their dinner. Right now all the bats are in Mexico for the winter.
Down at the very bottom, there is a gift shop, bathroom and sign pointing to the broken elevators. The people working down here have to hike in and out just like all the visitors.
They used to serve up all kids of tasty fried foods down here until they discovered that all the grease and cooking was messing up the flora of the cavern. So now they just sell boring cold sandwiches and salads. Or you can do like us and bring your own food down. Seventy-nine stories directly above (should the elevator be working) is a hot lunch place in the visitor center/gift shop.
I'll be sharing our travel plans, some reviews, cooking ideas (because I know you are all jealous of my easy-bake oven), and ... oh who am I kidding?! I'll be lucky to get our photos posted!