Ep. 126: Carlsbad Caverns National Park | New Mexico RV travel camping

Ep. 126: Carlsbad Caverns National Park | New Mexico RV travel camping

Greetings! I’m Marc Guido, and welcome
back to Grand Adventure! We are boondocking in Carlsbad, New
Mexico, where we’re going to visit not one, but two national parks in this
episode. So stay tuned! So we’re dispersed camping in a BLM
area that’s known as Fence Canyon. We’re about a mile up a dirt road right off
the US highway that leads for three and a half miles right over to Carlsbad
Caverns National Park. This has been a marvelous spot to camp. I do need to
caution you: the road is a little rough getting up here, and it is a little steep,
but with your time and patience you can really get any trailer up here, although
I wouldn’t recommend it for a low clearance motorhome. We’ve got nobody
around. We’ve got beautiful views out across the Permian Basin off the patio
side of the trailer. Now if you’re not familiar with the Permian Basin it’s a
broad area about 300 miles by 300 miles, approximately, mostly in West Texas but
partially in New Mexico. Actually, the Texas border is right down there behind
us as well. That is the largest oil producing region in the entire United
States. It accounts for about 20% of all the oil that’s drilled in the United
States, and while that Basin may look like a dry barren desert right now
in the daytime (and trust me, it is), at night the area lights up like a city
down there because they are just so many oil rigs. Both the lights of the oil rigs
and the flame coming out when they when they vent the natural gas out of the oil well
that comes out as a by-product. It’s really a pretty cool view, and the
stars here … you can see the Milky Way. The stars are literally from horizon to
horizon. Somebody even left a wooden platform
here at our campsite. It’s like having our own private sun deck! Now this was supposed to be about a
seven-hour drive from our last camp at Canyon Lake near New Braunfels, Texas. If
you missed that episode I’ll put a link right up here on the screen so you can
go back and check it out. It turned out to be over 10 hours. We had all kinds of
little inconveniences getting out here, not the least of which was I nearly ran
out of gas. I didn’t practice my own advice and missed the last opportunity
to get gas, and by the time I realized that there were no gas stations ahead
for 65 miles I was kind of screwed at that point. We ended up actually having
to drop the trailer at a ranch exit on the side of the interstate, on the side of
I-10, and actually continued unencumbered by the trailer so that we would get
better gas mileage and actually make it to the next gas station, and then go back
and retrieve the trailer. It turned out to be a royal pain. I will learn, and
hopefully you’ll learn from my mistakes, that out here in the West sometimes
those gas stations can be awfully few and far between. So as I said, we’re only about three and
a half miles from the main entrance to Carlsbad Caverns National Park. We’re
going t head over there now and go check it out.
The story behind Carlsbad Caverns is a fun one.
Jim White was a ranch hand in 1898. He was working to repair a fence line when
he noticed what he thought was smoke from a wildfire emanating from the
ridge line. When White went to explore further, however, he discovered that what
he saw from a distance was not smoke from a fire, but instead was a thick
plume of bats exiting the mouth of Carlsbad Caverns. Unable to convince any
of his co-workers to accompany him, White made a ladder from his fencing
materials and descended into the cave alone, carrying a homemade kerosene
lantern as his only source of light. At the time he was only 16 years old.
Throughout his lifetime, White would continue to explore the caves and
proudly share his discovery with anyone who would listen.
Eventually President Calvin Coolidge took notice, and in 1923 he established
Carlsbad Cave National Monument. Nine years later, the Park Service built a
visitor center and bored two elevators into the ground to access the caves 800
feet below, easing access to what had become Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
And who would become the Park’s first Head Ranger? Why, Jim White, of course! But
you’d be doing yourself a disservice by taking the elevators. In our opinion, the
Park is only fully experienced by using the Natural Entrance, following a narrow
switchbacking pathway to descend those 800 feet. Only this way can you truly appreciate the sheer
scale and grandeur of these subterranean caverns, where over 30 miles of chambers
have already been explored. Despite artificial light installations,
once passing the entrance the cave quickly grows very, very dark. It would be
a challenge to film in these conditions with any camera, and our lenses are truly
not up to the task. It’s also truly impossible to capture the sheer scope
and scale of Carlsbad Caverns on film, but we’ll give it our best effort
nonetheless. This is what Jim White named the Big
Room, but the name remains an understatement.
The Big Room occupies an area the size of six football fields, with a ceiling
height of up to 255 feet. The grandeur of this subterranean marvel is impossible
to overstate. Here remains one of Jim’s ladders used in his early explorations.
There’s no reason to hoof it back up that path to the Natural Entrance, for
from here at the cavern’s underground rest area you may take the elevators
straight up back to the Visitor Center. Now I’ve got to tell you, I’ve been in
caves before, but nothing prepared me for that experience in Carlsbad Caverns.
Unplanned, I’d actually spent over four hours down underground, and it was well
worth every second. I could have explored more, but I did want to get down to
Guadalupe Mountains. There’s no way that my camera could possibly do that place
justice. Just the sheer enormity and the beauty of those underground caverns has
to be experienced firsthand to be fully fully appreciated. If you’re visiting
Carlsbad Caverns and you’re a National Park fanatic, you can turn your visit into a
two-fer as only 25 miles away, just across the border in Texas, lies
Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The park encompasses Guadalupe Peak which at 8,749 feet is the highest point in
Texas. The Guadalupe Peak Trail winds through pinion pine and Douglas fir
forests as it ascends over 3,000 feet to the summit, offering expansive views
of the Chihuahuan Desert. The restored Frijole Ranch contains
a small museum of local history, and is the trailhead for Smith Spring. Now coming up next Wednesday, we’re going to
go hunt for aliens in Roswell, New Mexico, so if you’re not yet a Grand
Adventurer now’s the time. Make sure you go, now, smash that little red subscribe
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Grand Adventure. We’ll see you then.

86 thoughts on “Ep. 126: Carlsbad Caverns National Park | New Mexico RV travel camping

  1. Grand Adventure always provides the best information about the coolest places with the right words! Susan and I (Roscoe) look forward to watching you guys each week, as we dream about hitting the road full time ourselves.

  2. Gonna watch it again of course and this time full screen! I can't wait! Yea Marc I am going to do my best to get there! Thanks again to you and Mrs. GA for sharing! You know I love y'all!

  3. Loved it, Marc… Yes, a camera cannot represent the reality. That really is incredible walking down 800' of switchbacks. That likely takes at least one to two hours alone.

    Definitely on my to-do list…


  4. Wow! It really does light up in the night!! Great drone footage of a beautiful area! Thanks for taking us to Carlsbad Caverns and sharing the history! We haven't been there as adults. Beautiful! Hope to get back there to see it again.

  5. Wow, wow, wow! A gorgeous boondocking spot and two amazing National Parks. We love to explore in caves, so naturally Carlsbad is absolutely on my list. And now Guadalupe Mountains NP is on my radar. Love this episode!

  6. Your BEST video yet! Your truly genuine amazement and impressions of Carlsbad Caverns came through loud and clear! Currently in the RV outside of Dallas. Think I’ll be headed your way soon! Despite the concerts about photography limitations inside the cave ; you did a great job. Thanks for sharing and taking us along. Going for a long walk tomorrow to prepare for an 800’ decent into the caverns!

  7. I've only been to Shasta caverns and Moaning caverns in CA. Thanks for this. Really amazing. Sometimes those downhill hikes are really rough on the knees though.

  8. I had to watch it again it was so good. Just a followup on our earlier comments about snow. The place that I couldn't remember was Eagle Ridge. The fun thing was the lodge was the Swiss Exhibition hall from the NY World's Fair. I didn't find a email for you.

  9. Grand adventure What a great episode. Will definitely add it to our ‘Must see’ list. Thanks so much for what you do! Look forward to it every week.

  10. Have not been to Carlsbad Caverns in nearly 20 years. I had forgotten how amazing those caverns are. Great quality video as usual!

  11. Like always, another cool video. I'm surprise you don't have more solar than just the fold out panels, as must as you boondock.

  12. Wow looks like an amazing place ? it’s on my Must See List Marc. Another cool video????????? thanks for sharing and safe travels

  13. You missed the mandatory fuel stop at Ozona, didn't you? The last thing I told my sweetheart before she took the wheel and I took a nap was that I had programmed the fuel stop in the GPS and we would not make El Paso if we didn't get fuel. I was awakened suddenly by a dead-stick lane change to the shoulder. The GPS showed we were miles from nowhere. She had substituted her own risk analysis with disappointing results.
    I dialed on-the-road service and put it on speaker. "YOU tell him what happened." "Why ME?" "Because you were driving while I was asleep and it is way easier for him to understand why YOU ran out of diesel than if I did it — because that doesn't happen."
    The dirty look from the driver was accompanied by laughter from the call center.
    A rollback arrived with no diesel. We made a plan to load the pickup and ride with him to the Loves in Sparks, TX. He had no ball for his underreach, so we had to leave the trailer on the roadside. I placed some LED strobes.
    After fueling and priming the fuel filter head, I dropped her off at the house and deadheaded an hour back east to recover the trailer. At least I got four hours sleep before work. ?

  14. I've always heard about Carlsbad, just never went. Looks pretty cool. Need to put this one on my bucket list. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Man, both you and Traveling Robert, with videos in the same week, will make me redraw (again) my plans for the road trip! This caverns look amazing, but also the surrounding areas are great to.
    I really like this type of videos, in episodes, but I also would like to see you in longer videos, vlog style. Maybe you already do those but I never saw it.
    Keep up the good work!

  16. Great video. Thank you. I plan to get there to see the bats. I can’t think of any reason that I would end up 800’ feet under ground so I really appreciate your work.

  17. It's very nice you offer Information and History on the areas you are visiting. Most other Channels just act "Goofy" and give little info ? Thanks for the Adventure Marc ?

  18. Gas stations! Tell me about it! In Canada, in the Winter, never having been there and not knowing anything … my sis and I passed a station, thought about it and Thankfully turned around! There are NO roads except the one you are ON. And they are few and far between. Maybe some day, I can visit Carlsbad Cavern. But if not, thanks so much for showing us all this! The trees at the trail head to Smith creek look like cottonwoods. That breeze blowing through must have been great! 🙂

  19. It looks like the cavern is handicap accessible. Are there any stairs that would make it difficult for someone with a walker? Thanks for sharing. Wonderful video as always.

  20. The low light conditions actually resulted in some stunning images. It is truly a magical place and we are glad we have seen it. The bat colony exodus at dusk gives you chills. Thanks Marc.

  21. I liked how you made it look like you had the whole cave to yourself as I know how busy it gets. Last time I was there I had a baby strapped to my back … that was 30 years ago. Thank you, you did a wonderful job of filming.

  22. It’s been said that hindsight is always 20/20. I’ve also let the gas gauge get dangerously low in a desolate location. Scared the bejesus outta me. Now I start looking for stations at half a tank. Lesson learned.

  23. Outstanding destination Professor G! Please share with us what the climate (temp) is like now and throughout the year for this location. Also, include detail about the temp inside the cave. I'm assuming that it is farely cool and about the same all year round. BTW… with all those bats, there must be some places in the cave that are waist deep in guano – LOL!

  24. I was just at Carlsbad and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks a couple weeks ago. I have been to a number of caverns but have to agree with you that Carlsbad is the best. The highlight for me was later in the early evening watching the bats fly out of the cavern. Thousand of them coming out was quite the sight.

  25. I'm keeping a "Grand Adventure" notebook for next winter when we both are fully retired. Have you ever kept an expense log… We're trying to decide if we can afford to full-time for 6 months a year.

  26. I kept trying to figure out why I wasn't seeing your new video! Finally figured out today that somehow we had gotten Unsubscribed!!!!??? Argh! Gotta watch those fingers when doing YouTube online! Awesome video!!!!!!

  27. Marc, is that a pipe running down the other side of the road?
    I see you finally left the biggest state with the least amount of public land. Looks like some good views now.
    I know you love boondocking like that.
    I imagine your knee deep in powder by now.
    Great video as always.
    Thanks again.

  28. Well done on the recordings in difficult conditions. Marc, as always thanks for my “revisit” from so long ago! Looking forward to your next adventure…

  29. Great video. Over given up trying to take pictures on the Cavern. They never do the formations justice. Next time you are in the area, be visit Sitting Bulls Falls. Nice home
    Pretty area.

  30. We had no idea what those lights were at night! Like a city that disappeared everyday. It’s amazing that we can spend time at a place and still learn more about it from watching your videos. You always have THE BEST info on an area. Great boondocking spot. Totally agree about the natural entrance, with taking the elevator back up of course! We actually went back a couple days later and took the elevator down to walk the great room again. Couldn’t get enough. Beautiful video!!

  31. Please NOTE:
    We do have a lot of TREES in Carlsbad (city) and the Pecos River which runs into the Rio Grande is also in Carlsbad (city)
    White City, 20 miles away, is the gateway to the Carlsbad Caverns…

  32. Another great video! Carlsbad Caverns . . . amazing place! The video turned out pretty nice of the inside. I remember it as being just huge. You are our tour guide because we seem to be following your videos. We certainly are enjoying them and all your hard work! Safe travels and may you never run out of fuel. ?

  33. It is amazing to see the quadcopter video today that would have cost THOUSANDS of dollars a few years ago and now its almost free for the do-it-selfer. Nice work! Nothing is worse than someone using a video camera like a flashlight…………..

  34. Another great video! What are your plans to deal with the upcoming change in YOUTUBE concerning COPPA beginning in January 2020?

  35. My wife and I have been traveling the western U.S and our biggest problem is getting packages that we order because it seems that no one wants to send our packages to a PO Box. How can we solve this issue and still travel?

  36. I am 68 and explored the Cavern back in September of 1959, when my dad was Transferred from March AFB in Riverside Ca. to Loring AFB in Limestone Maine. We stayed all day with the tour, and made sure to watch the mass exodus at Dusk. Watching several million bats flying frantically out into the open in search of food is one of the wonders of the world. Great video, bro.! I'm heading that way from Dallas is a month or 2, as I take up Boondocking full time. Love your channel!

  37. Wow. Love them drone shots Marc. Looking at the the first mins of footage, and your campsite, Is this the most solitude you've ever had in your adventures?

  38. We were there back in February. Had a great visit at the caverns. We walked down and took the Elevator out.

  39. Awesome camp spot! I think you got amazing shots of the caverns – haven’t been there yet, but what you showed was impressive! Love that they left the old ladder. Oh Roswell sounds fun ?

  40. Guadalupe national park is one of my favorite spots in Texas. I have done a lot of the trails there. The high point trail is challenging but the view is worth it. Mckittrick Canyon is however a much better hike and much more interesting. You can do around 5 miles in-and-out of nothing too strenuous into the hunting lodge and cabin and grotto and back out. For probably the most strenuous hike in the entire park continue past the grotto and start the climb up to the notch and up-and-up and up. The hike up to the hunter peak and the bowl is in between in terms of difficulty but it is very pretty and an entirely different ecosystem up top at the bowl.

    Edit to add Mckittrick Canyon is a separate entrance down the road from the main visitors center. It is on mountain time not central time and it has a gate that they lock at night. Overnight hike in camping requires a back country permit.

  41. Do you subscribe to the yearly All Access Pass for the National Parks? I plan on full-time boondocking come 2020 and was wondering if it were worth it. Thoughts?

  42. How much do you pay attention to the weather when camping on an open area like that? What would be the critical factors to cancel a stay in that area?

  43. We enjoyed all of the background info on the oil fields and the cave itself. That area in Texas may be the sparsest we've seen for gas stations. Sounds like you cut it as close as you could.. I also remember you commenting on the poor efficiency of the Tundra.

    I wish we had been there the same time of year as you guys. We had to stay at that terrible campground near the sign to the park.

  44. I was just there! Camped right there!?
    The pumps start up and sounds like a rock band playing in the distance. Did you see the tiny cacti next to the little stone "fort" built into the wall of the hill as well? Nice place!

  45. Head north from Carlsbad to NM 131. Go west past Queens toward El Paso Gap. When you see South Rim Road, turn left(south). Follow this road to the end. You will see a two rut road to the left. Follow this about a half mile and it will turn west on to an old drilling pad. This faces the canyon with Dark Canyon to the east. Water is there if you know where to find it. You can see this area from Google Maps. I have been thete for 2 weeks and seen no person. You will need a cell booster for phones to work.
    Head back to 131 and down to North Rim Road. Follow this to the Artesia/Cloudcroft highway. Have plenty of gas, water and food. This is remote but has excellent well maintained county and ranch roads. Just no people and communication is spotty.
    Then there is all the area below the Caprock north of Loco Hills. But that is for another time.

  46. Been to Carlsbad a couple times, but long before elevators and fancy rest area at the bottom. Wow!
    You did a nice video capturing what you could, but there is nothing like being there.
    Your camp had lots of elbow room! Big score there!!
    Thanks again!

  47. Thanks for posting on one of my favorite areas. Don't miss going on down to Guadalupe Mtns NP and hiking some of the spectacular trails One thing to mention to RV-er's is that because of all the oil activity in the basin, the primary highway U.S. 285 that comes up from West Texas to Carlsbad is primarily a two lane highway and is heavily congested with oil field traffic. Many of the rigs are oversized wide-loads so RV-er's take note and travel can be slow. US Hwy 62 to Whites City and the caverns themselves is also possibly heavily traveled by big rigs these days.

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