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Monday, March 28, 2016

What every mom should know about Carlsbad Caverns, NM

For spring break, our family went to a few spots in New Mexico, and here's our review of Carlsbad Caverns:
What every mom should know about Carlsbad Caverns
  • The elevators are currently broken (they should be fixed in May), so however far down you hike, you have to hike just as far back up. Our 8 and 6 year old were able to hike all the way down to the Big Room and back up with some cajoling (over 3 miles round trip). 
  • Dogs aren't allowed in the cave, but there are kennels behind the visitors center where you can leave them for $10 a day. 
  • It costs $10/adult and children are free. 
  • I appreciated the hike back up because (while utterly exhausting!) it gave me a new perspective on everything I glanced at on the way down. 
  • Bring plenty of water (but not more than you're willing to carry). You can't take any food in, but there is a small shop by the Big Room with sandwiches and water. They also have restrooms there.
  • Eat a hearty meal before-hand!
  • Have everyone take a sweater. The caverns are much cooler than outside. 
  • Have your kids do the Junior Ranger program! Some national parks have programs that take a lot of time, but this was easy to do on the hike, and both of our boys were practically done by the time we got back up. They love getting the badges and are so proud to tell others that they are Jr Rangers! (You can get the booklets at the front desk of the visitor center). 
  • Strollers aren't allowed, but you can take infant carriers/backpacks. My husband was awesome and carried our daughter the whole way.
  • We were there too early in the season to see any bats, but I wish we could have! It would be so neat to see the bats fly out of the cave at sunset. Plan accordingly if this is something you want to see.
  • This hike took us a good 4-5 hours with three children. Plan for plenty of time so you're not rushed and can really appreciate all of the incredible formations throughout the cavern. My 6 year old needed plenty of breaks on the way back up.
  • I am a novice at photography with a good digital camera. Flash photography is allowed, but make sure you take time to learn what settings work best in dark caverns for your own camera before your trip so you're not spending tons of time trying to get decent pictures in a dark cave. It is a very low-lit setting and I struggled to get pictures with my family and the formations in focus.
  • There is really only one way in and out, which made me feel less stressed because my kids had a much harder time getting lost, and the rangers were wonderful about reminding them to stay near their parents any time they ran slightly ahead of us.
  • I was sore the next day! My ankles and calves were worn out. 
All in all, I loved it! My husband enjoyed it and it was fun seeing the expressions on my children's faces as they found different formations throughout the cave. It is tiring for little ones, but completely worth it (though my boys don't plan on going back any time soon).

I’ll be linking up to Making Your Home Sing Sunday, Mama Moments MondayMom’s Library, Clever Chicks Blog Hop, The Mommy Club. 

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