We got a little turned around on our first day back in New Mexico. We stopped in Carlsbad Caverns to get the lay of the land. Before leaving on our trip, we learned that the Caverns were limiting to 1000 visitors per day, and using a first-come, first-served model. When we stopped in the visitor’s center on Wednesday evening, we learned that they now had an on-line reservation system. You could still line up for same day tickets, but the rangers told us that people started lining up at 4:30am! We went on-line to see what we could get, and Saturday morning was the first available reservation. So we booked that rather than braving the early morning wait.
That left us with no plans for Thursday. After discussing with Alana and Dave, we decided that a trip up the road to Roswell sounded just quirky enough to be worth a shot. Unfortunately, Alana had some work to do, so she stayed back at the campgrounds while the rest of us trekked up the alien highway.
Roswell is just about what you’d expect. They’ve made the entire town about the 1947 “incident”. Everything carries an alien theme, from the tourists, to the traps, to the welcome signs, to the street lamps. Even the McDonald’s is designed like a flying saucer.
We popped into the “International UFO Museum” to find out what we could. It’s an entertaining, and more than a little weird, but it passes an afternoon relatively easily. The boys loaded up on goofy stuff from the gift shop, and we were on our way. We’re looking forward to some more outside time tomorrow!
Friday: Guadalupe Mountains
On Friday, Alana and her family headed to Albuquerque to meet some of her family. That left us on our own to explore Guadalupe Mountains national park. I have to admit I was not expecting much, other than some pleasant hikes on a warm spring Texas day, but the park surprised us all. It may not be grand, but it’s pretty enough, with a relatively varied landscape and scenery.
We settled on two hikes. The first took us to the “Devil’s Hall”, a narrow canyon about 2 miles from the visitor’s center. When we pulled in, the ranger told us we got the last spot in the parking lot! Clearly, America is still swarming to its national parks during COVID.
After a picnic lunch, we drove up the highway a bit to McKitrick Canyon. This is a very pleasant hike following a stream bed up to the Platt Cabin, at the junction of the North and South McKitrick Canyons. The scenery is unmistakably desert, but surprisingly beautiful. It’s enough to make Lara and me think about returning for some backcountry camping in the future. This park was the last on our priority list for the trip, but probably our most pleasant surprise.
Saturday: Carlsbad Caverns
We saved Carlsbad Caverns for final day of the trip, primarily because that was the day we could get a reservation to tour the cave. Alex seemed bored by the tour, but the rest of us really enjoyed the roughly 2.5 mile walk through this massive cave complex. The rock formations, along with the shear size of the cave, are truly impressive. I have to admit though, it’s difficult taking pictures that tell the story in such a large and dark place.
After the tour, it was time for the 9.5 hour drive home to get ready for reality to set in once again. During the drive, we hashed out plans for several future trips. Stay tuned for what comes next!