Above ground, cacti flower and desert wildlife make deep rocky canyons their home in the area known as the Chihuahuan Desert, but the greater treasure of this desertscape lies beneath the surface. More than 120 limestone caves created when an ancient sea retreated from a vibrant reef are located under southern New Mexico, just about 15 miles from its border with Texas’ western corner known as the Big Bend region for its mountains, basins and the Rio Grande. Formations with names like Lake of the Clouds, King’s Palace, the Hall of Giants, the Queen’s Chamber and Spirit World have long entranced visitors to this underground wonderland. Since the 1400s, people have been coming here and found themselves in awe of its majesty, but it wouldn’t be until the dawn of the Great Depression that this place would become known as Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
Those wanting to get out of the heat of the American southwest might want to check out this underground gem. Carlsbad’s underground is usually around 56 degrees, even when the surrounding New Mexico desert is reaching the 100s. While the most popular activity here is touring the caves underground, Carlsbad is also a haven for bats and those wanting to catch a glimpse at the night sky. While caves are features in many national parks, Carlsbad is one of only three where the cave is the main focus point and the second national park designated primarily around a cave. It also remains the only national park in New Mexico. This park has also received international attention and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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