Let me begin by saying that I am a very easy going, laid back and tolerant individual, and I don't usually complain a whole lot. So I apologize in advance for the complaining I am about to begin with...
I woke up on my birthday and began driving from Austin, TX to Whites City, NM. This small "city" is right at the entrance to the park, so we reserved a camp site there for the night. The cost was $20 per night, which is really expensive for a primitive camp-site. Especially when the faclities are DISGUSTING. I understand it is close to the park, but if you are going to charge that much for a primitive camp area, at least try to maintain the facilities! Anyway, we pitched our tent and drove into the park to the visitor center.
Main entrance to Carlsbad Caverns. This is where the bats exit the cave.
We purchased general admission tickets to the caverns and reserved our places in the "Kings Palace" cave tour for the next day. We proceeded to the "Main Entrance" and "Big Room" self-guided cave tours. Both tours expose you to many magnificently spectacular cave formations, as well as an abundance of other tourists who are extremely inconsiderate and incapable of following the few simple rules laid out by the National Park. It's not that difficult people: SHUT THE F#$% UP so other people can enjoy what they traveled across the U.S., or world, to experience. It really does take away from the experience when you hear loud voices instead of the silence of the cave.
After the cave tours, we headed to the ampitheater where the park rangers give their "lecture" while you wait for the 1,000,000+ bats to awe you with their flight from the cave to feed at night.
The park rangers try with all of their heart to convince the audience that it is absolutely imperative that everyone remains silent throughout this spectacle out of respect for the bats, as well as other people that would like to experience the sounds of this amazing phenomenon. For about the first...uh...30 seconds, most people actually tried to stay silent, but that was about it. The place turns into a circus soon after, with people forgetting everything they just heard the rangers stress for the last 30 minute or so. I tried to ignore all the activity, but began getting more and more irritated with everyones' disgusting behavior. I lost focus on the bats and began fantasizing that I had a sniper rifle and was slowly picking off everyone in sight that was pissing me off.
I quickly realized that the sniper rifle just wasn't cutting it, so I tossed it aside and replaced it with a fully automatic assault rifle. I was eventually able to turn my attention back to the bats, but by the time the crowd clears out and only the truly interested people remain, it is too dark to see anything any more and the park rangers force you to leave. Oh well, I tried. All things considered, this truly is an amazing thing to witness. It was definitely the most fascinating thing I saw on this trip. In fact, we actually drove back the following night to see the bats again. It was just as amazing the second time. I could honestly watch them every night and never get sick of it.
A definite must see!! Unfortunately, you are unable to take pictures, since it would disrupt the bats.
The following morning we returned to the caverns to take the King's Palace tour. I really liked this tour. Some of the best formations are in this area, and it is somewhat isolated from the rest of the cave so you don't hear all of the noise from the other tourists. It is definitely worth paying extra for this tour.