Ep. 126: Carlsbad Caverns National Park | New Mexico RV travel camping
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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
button down there in the corner and ring that notification bell so you get
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you after each episode. Until next week please remember, life is nothing but a
Grand Adventure. We’ll see you then.


  • Archer’s Outdoor Adventures

    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.

  • Tracy Stella

    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!

  • Gorrdd

    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…


  • Happy Trails Hiking

    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.

  • Simple Life, Big Adventures

    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!

  • Schoolhouse1868

    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!

  • Recovering Soul

    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.


    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.

  • Donna Burrill

    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.

  • The LoneStar Guy69

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

  • Don Davis

    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.

  • Tom Austin

    Wow looks like an amazing place 😊 it’s on my Must See List Marc. Another cool video😎👍🌎🎶🚌😊🎥👍🎈 thanks for sharing and safe travels

  • William Degnan

    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. 😉

  • Dirty Shoes Adventures

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

  • Mário Botelho

    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!

  • Kim Sargeant

    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.

  • CitySlicker Tony

    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 👍

  • Jesi B

    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! 🙂

  • Jean Decker

    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.

  • Don Canaday

    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.

  • Anita Mitchell

    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.

  • Cat Lady

    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.

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