Cloudcroft is a neat little mountain village located off highway 82 high in the mountains. You get to it via a narrow windy road with a 6% grade and a elevation gain of over 4000 ft. It is a summer haven for many of the Texans who come to the mountains to get out of the heat in the summer. I was a little concerned about the elevation, i.e. snow, for this time of year. There is a small ski slope, but winter is the dead time for Cloudcroft and none of the RV parks were open. There was little snow visible .
We unhooked the car and did a little reconnaissance and found the perfect parking space down the road about 3 miles in the Lincoln National Forest. They use an RV overflow parking area for a cross country parking area in the winter. The snow was gone, but the gate was open so we scooted in with the RV for the night. At 9,000' elevations is was a little chilly, but not as cold as I expected.
The next morning we walked the different campground loops, and concluded it would be a great place to spend a few days. The area reminded me a lot of Arnold, California but a little smaller. There were lots of pine and fir trees and the camp sites were small (not too many suitable for big rigs) but spaced well apart.
We were on our way mid morning to rendezvous with my son Conlan Craig in Carlsbad. He works for the US Forest Service in Northern New Mexico and is attending a seminar for the week in Carlsbad. He had told us there was truck parking next to the hotel where he was staying at so we made a bee line for it. The parking area turned out to be pretty accommodating, although there were a lot of trucks.
We met up with Conlan after class and did dinner and then called it an evening. We planned to see the Carlsbad Caverns in the morning. The next morning we met up with Conlan and enjoyed morning coffee with him before heading down to Carlsbad.
The Park Service offers several tours of the Caverns at different times of the day, usually by reservation. We were lucky enough to arrive in time for the first tour of the Kings Palace, which was one of the caverns which was suppose to be a "must see". The ranger was extremely informative and I was really impressed with her knowledge. I was not prepared for how large the caverns were. I had been to Kartchner Caverns in Arizona as well as several other caverns in Arkansas and Nevada but I was not prepared for how large the Carlsbad Caverns were.
You can take an elevator down to the Caverns or walk in through the natural opening which is about one mile in and 750 feet down to the main room. We took the elevator down for the tour and then back up to the visitor center. Later we walked into the natural entrance and took the elevator back up to the visitor center.
The natural entrance to the cave.
The walk way down, down, down into the caverns.
The caves have very low lights so a good flash and tripod are necessary for good pictures. The following are just a few of pictures I took. Unfortunately my flash is not the greatest and I did not carry a tripod so the pictures are not a good as they could be. Just use your imagination.
The view from the Carlsbad visitor center off to the south.
We had Conlan over for dinner one last time and then for morning coffee before we left. I said good bye to my son (which was really hard to do as I don't know when we will connect again) and Joel and I headed towards Guadalupe National Park just down the road.