We spent this past week in Carlsbad, NM. While it may be in the middle of nowhere, there are some fantastic things to do near there. We drove in from the South on highway 285 after boondocking in Ft. Stockton, TX. The road in was a bit bumpy. It runs right through prime oil field country, and there are a lot of heavy trucks beating it up. The traffic isn’t terrible. However, it is only one lane each way for most of it. If you’re like us, and you don’t drive over 60mph, this can get problematic. We chose 60 because that’s what our trailer tires are rated for. Sooo, every time there’s a break in oncoming traffic expect a flood of people to fly around you. That’s alright though. We’d rather deal with that instead of tires blowing out.
Aside from all the fun of driving on a two lane road at 60 passing semis every few seconds, Laura’s bike fell out of it’s roof rack. Thankfully, she wanted cable locks around the bike frames and racks while traveling in case of theft. Well, it turns out that they’ll also keep your bike from falling on the road and getting mangled if it somehow frees itself from the rack. It fell out because the forks decided to bend and twist. Thus it came off of the pin that was clamped into the bike rack, fun times. Anyway, as soon as we get to a Cannondale dealer we’ll figure out what they have to do to fix it.
On to Carlsbad. There aren’t many things to do there. However, the few things they do have are pretty awesome. The first, obviously, is Carlsbad caverns. I assume that the caves are why most people go there, and I can’t blame them. If you haven’t been yet, get up, find your bucket list, and write it down. If you don’t already have a bucket list, great, now you can start it.
We totally cheated and took the elevator down, all 750ft of it. The other way is to walk down the natural entrance 1.25 miles. Once in the main portion of the cave we walked the loop of the Big Room. It took us about two hours, and we got some amazing pictures and video. Aside from the natural entrance and big room self-guided tours, there are several ranger led only tours in other areas of the cave system. Unfortunately we couldn’t stay for the sunset bat flight. We made a mistake and got there too early. We can’t leave the dogs for more than eight hours, and staying for sunset would have been about ten. We’ll go through there again some day and see the bat flight. For now, the several hours we spent down there were enough. We don’t want to see it all the first time.
The second fun thing we found was the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park. It was only 2.5 miles from the RV park we stayed at. Thankfully it was MUCH closer than the caves. It’s on top of a hill that overlooks Carlsbad, and the view is spectacular. We really wanted to get a sunrise time lapse from up there. Unfortunately, every morning after that until we left was cloudy. But back to zoo…Show up EARLY. The employees at the zoo confirmed what I’d read on Google, the animals don’t like hanging out in the afternoon heat. We got there right when they opened and saw almost everything. They’ve got eagles, hawks, bobcats, elk, bison, wolves, snakes, a black bear, a fox, prairie dogs, antelope, even a mountain lion. They chose animals that are all indigenous to the area.
Along with the animals there’s also the Living Desert side of the park. Everywhere you walk there are different species of desert plants, and they’re not just cacti. Although, there is a lot of cactus. The crown jewel of the park is the Succulents of the World building. Inside you’ll find a pleasant 120 degree environment where desert plants are thriving. You really should brave the heat and go inside. They have a hibiscus that’s half the size of our fifth wheel. It’s a pretty amazing place.
We really enjoyed our time in Carlsbad. We stayed in Bud’s Place RV park. It had only been open a few months, but it’s really nice. Oh, they actually have HIGH SPEED WIFI. I know a lot of parks claim to have it, but they do. We were able to post three videos while we were there, and never had to turn on the hot spots. Once again, if you haven’t been yet, you need to start planning on it.