Tour I: The Natural Entrance Route to the Caves, exploring the underworld
Carlsbad Caverns National Park Travel Blog› entry 8 of 11 › view all entries
The Natural Entrance Route to the cave is one of two self-guided tours visitors can take. This is not recommended for people who are not in good physical shape. It is a one mile tour with an elevation drop so steep it hurts at the knees and ankles if you are out of shape like I was. It takes you through the traditional explorers route. This natural and large historic entrance to the cavern is also the entrance through which the swam of bats leave and enter daily.
The nasty smell of bat droppings greets you as you begin to enter the cave, it drops 750 feet into the depth of the earth. Without the artificial lighting it is quite impossible to even see ones hands right in front of their face. The narrow paved trails are lit with electric lighting for ease along what is called the main corridor.
Carlsbad Cavern became a national attraction as early as the 1920s. Then, access to the cave was limiting as there were no elevators nor the paved walk ways that have been added in recent years. The lighting was primitive then making it harder to explore the depth and width as is possible today. Visitors to the cave came in and out the same way on foot. There were many stairs to climb while holding lanterns. Part of the stairs used back then exists in the cave on the natural entrance route. This is really an exciting part of the tour as it tests not only the spirit, but your vision, and stamina for the dark. I do recommend it for the seeker and wild spirited.