Incredible Caverns at Carlsbad... Bats, not so much

Carlsbad Caverns Chandelier Thingie We broke in our shiny new National Parks Pass at Carlsbad Caverns, and the splendor that unfolds during the hour-long self-guided walking tour is otherworldly. We were continually struck by the vastness of it all. Next time we may up the ante to try for a guided tour of a lesser-known cavern.

Carlsbad Caverns

Loren Loren as spelunker

Carlsbad is also famous for the population of Mexican Freetail Bats, which set out in search for their dinner every night at dusk. Crowds gather at the area facing the entrance of the main cavern, which has been made into a stadium of sorts (called the Bat Amphitheater). A nervous park ranger talked to the crowd for the 30 minutes preceding the bat flight, and we all waited in silence (sans cameras by law, because they disturb the bats) for the huge cloud of bats. Ultimately, it was a huge disappointment: the most we saw was a slow trickle of bats probably amounting to a few hundred? maybe a thousand? which was sort of cool. We never got an explanation from the nervous park ranger, who didn’t even really acknowledge the letdown, so we remain baffled. Maybe the bats knew something we didn’t? Maybe they weren’t hungry? Who knows. Guess we’ll just have to come back some other time...

Waiting for bats Waiting for the (slow trickle of) bats

Since we’d waited until dark for the bat cloud which never came, we set off even later than expected in search of a campsite in downtown Carlsbad, which turned into a search for a hotel in downtown Carlsbad. We ended up staying at a cheap motel, which was possibly the most disgusting place ever...Lesson learned: opt to set up camp in a State Park (even in dark) rather than staying in a crusty, cheap motel.

Caverns Motel If this motel were even on Yelp I'd rate it a 1.