Thanks again for registering for the Carlsbad Caverns Exploration weekend on Sept 11-12, 2021. We know many of you are traveling in from a distance, and we are very excited for our first subterranean hike! Your hike organizer, Tom Kennedy, has had a 40+ year love affair with the Caverns and is excited to share his knowledge and passion for Carlsbad Caverns with you.
In addition to the information on the hike information page itself (https://hikeformentalhealth.org/carlsbad-caverns-exploration-2021/), we want to share a bit more about the itinerary and give you some ideas for your planning purposes. I apologize that this email is so long, but it is an easy read and will help you get ready for this adventure.
Before I start, please keep in mind that, with any event like this, that no matter how much we plan, things can change a bit in the moment so we all need to be flexible. Bring an adventurous, positive attitude and be prepared to go with the flow if plans need to adjust during the weekend itself due to changing circumstances.
Please plan to arrive in Carlsbad by Friday, September 10th. The closest major airport is in El Paso, Texas. It is about a 2:30 hour drive from El Paso to Carlsbad, NM. Check in at most hotels in Carlsbad is 2PM local time. Tom and his friends will be staying at the EconoLodge. This is a reasonably priced hotel with a bar, restaurant and pool, but there are other options on the Carlsbad Caverns side of town.
NOTE: Please give Tom a call at (551) 587-1890 once you arrive in Carlsbad. We want to know that you have arrived in town. Also, Tom will be able to coordinate with you on final details and update you on any last minute changes for the weekend.
Other recommendations include the Super 8, and there is a new Baymount under construction as well as other options along the strip. I'm sure you will find something in your price range. If you are going to arrive Friday, some of us will be going to Tom's favorite restaurant, the Trinity Hotel. It is fine dining that you can enjoy in a t-shirt and shorts. It's the oldest building in town, they have their own wine label and their resident ghost is Ruby. If you'd like to come, you must let Tom know a couple weeks in advance so he can make reservations. A get-together at the Trinity will let us all get to know each other and find out a little more about the hike before Saturday. After dinner we will all head up to the visitor center to watch thousands of bats leave the cave - always an exciting event.
Saturday morning, plan to get to the Visitors Center for the Caverns no later than 7:30AM. There is a $15 per person admission cost unless you have a National Parks pass. By arriving earlier we can make sure we can be assured of being in one group to start our hike into the Caves. We are working on supplementing the regular hike with guided tours into the King's Palace, Queen's Chamber, Papoose Room and the Green Room. These supplemental tours would involve an additional (nominal) fee and we'll let you know more as we get closer to the date.
Tom is also working to have one of the rangers who is a geologist and has written many papers on the cave to join us.
Plan on being in the cave 5-6 hours. The temperature is a constant 56 degrees year round. There can also be dripping water so boots or shoes should have non-skid soles, and the first mile and a quarter is downhill. Bright flashlights are recommended (not necessary), and make looking into nooks and crannies easier. There are elevators available for those who can't make the walk down the ramp into the cave and you can meet us in the lunchroom down below.
On exiting the cave, you can follow us on a 9-mile nature loop into the backcountry. This is a driving loop where you can see Barbary sheep, mule deer, and Tom may take us on a short hike to show us the path to the Lechuguilla Cave. If you don't know about Lechuguilla Cave, just Google it.
Saturday night everyone is free to dine out in town. If you're looking for Barbeque, the Red Chimney may be your place. Lucky Bull Grill is another option. Great bar and relaxed pub food. Yellow Bricks has both charm and flavor serving both steak and seafood. Trinity Hotel may already be familiar to you. It's a little on the pricier side, but the food is amazing. If you're looking for something a little less formal, Marisco's is a recent addition with authentic VeraCruz style Mexican food, and, of course, there is the Guadalupe Mountain Brewery, featuring a great selection of pizzas and craft brews (there's gluten-free options as well).
Sunday morning, we'll meet at White's City by 9:30 for an optional hike on the historic Guano Trail. Look for Tom's car with it's Hike for Mental Health decal on the back window. We will leave some cars in White City and carpool up to the Visitor's Center where we will be starting a 3.5 mile hike back down to White City. On this hike you'll see the second natural entrance to Carlsbad most folks don't see and Tom will entertain you with little-known facts about the landscape and the history of the area. We should wrap-up by around 2 PM on Sunday.
If you'd like to spend a little more time in the area, however, there are great hikes both in the Park (Slaughter Canyon is recommended), or you can visit Sitting Bull Falls, about an hour away, which is well worth the drive. Really looking for roadside attractions? 70 miles north you can visit the aliens in Roswell New Mexico, or head west to Alamogordo for the White Sands National Monument where you can sleigh ride on the dunes. Tom will be available to answer any questions and help you decide what else you might want to explore on your own in the area.
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Thank you for being part of the hike and for helping raise $$$ and awareness to help eliminate the suffering from mental illness and the stigma that surrounds it. I hope you are as excited as we are for the weekend. If you have questions in the meantime, feel free to call Tom directly at (551) 587-1890 and leave a message. He will get back to you.
HIKE for Mental Health
Hikes that bring hope.