Our hike today led us in an opposite direction – 750 feet down a steep and winding path – into the depths of Carlsbad Caverns National Park. We chose the self-guided walk, beginning at what is known as The Natural Entrance, a gaping black hole where the 1.25 mile trail awaited.
An hour later, we reached an underground rest/snack area located in The Big Room, a chamber 4,000 feet long, 625 feet wide and 255 feet high. Here exhausted explorers can call it a day and catch the elevator back up. For more curious folks like us, the path continued on for another 1.25 miles, allowing us to take in such sights as The Lions Tail, Hall of Giants and the incredible Bottomless Pit.
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It’s was impossible to capture just how vast the caverns are, but I did manage to snap a couple photos that illustrate the intricate detail of the numerous formations that grow in this fascinating park.
Aztec Ruins National Monument In northwestern New Mexico provides a trip back in time, but don't let the name fool you. When discovered by Anglo settlers, they mistakenly believed these ruins were built by the Aztecs of central Mexico. In fact, these ruins are what remain of the community built from the late 1000s to the late 1200s by ancestral Pueblo people – a community that rivaled the better-known Chaco Canyon to the south.
We were given a guide for a self guided tour of this fascinating site.
Some of the darker back rooms were believed to have been used as storage. This photo to the left shows the original ceiling, built by the ancestral Pueblo people. Because the ceiling remained so well intact, rings from the trees that created the ceiling allowed the remains to be dated.
Rooms were connected by a series of doorways. The Great Kiva was excavated in 1921 and rebuilt in 1934. The meaning of the strip of green sandstone remains a mystery. Reg explores the interior of the Great Kiva which served as a sanctuary and meeting place.
The weather report called for high winds today and boy were they ever! We drove north from Santa Fe, cutting west on scenic Highway 96 towards Highway 550, which would take us into Colorado.
The gusts blew anything and everything that wasn't nailed down…including us. A veil of dust covered the landscape, creating a distant haze. Where would we have our picnic lunch?
At last a sign…the only welcome we'd come upon in miles and miles. We pulled in the parking lot and made ourselves at home, entertained by the comings and goings as we ate in our car. The Apache Nugget appears to serve as a welcome relief, not only for travelers but locals as well.