|Carlsbad Caverns, Day 1|
by Stormy on June 28, 2005
They call it the Big Room and you have to ask, just how big does a room have to be in order to be called big? The answer may surprise you!
After the tour of Slaughter Canyon Cave we had just enough time to race back to Carlsbad Caverns National Park and get our self-guided tour tickets for the Big Room.
The Big Room is not just big. It's a gigantic room. It's also known as The Hall of Giants. It is equivalent in size to 14 football fields! It is rated as one of the largest known cave chambers in the world! Admission to the park includes admission to this room and to the Natural Entrance and this room alone is worth the price of admission!
We got to the cave with an hour to go before closing time and rushed down into the cave to get a start on the exploration. One of two means to get into the cave is the 750 foot descent in an elevator and this was our choice because we were pressed for time. The elevator ride takes about a minute and there is a window to see the layers of rock slide by as the elevator car descends. Once down in the cave, you are deposited just outside the lunch room, perhaps the deepest below ground cafeteria in the world, capable of seating hundreds of people. Here there is a cafeteria style snack bar and restrooms. You can also pick up things like film and post cards. The start to the Big Room tour route is just steps away.
The tour loop is just over a mile long with fascinating sites both to the right and the left of the trail. There is an audio tour option for this part of the cave. Under normal conditions walking a mile does not take much time, but here, with formations as far as the eye can see, a mile long path sure manages to stretch out the time. Walking this route, reading the signs and listening to the audio, took a lot of time. At the end of the day a park ranger walks the route, picking up all the stragglers. Today we were the last ones in the cave and the park ranger was nice enough to walk with us, point things out and tell us about the cave. He was an elderly man, picking up a little extra money in his retirement and he absolutely loved to talk about the cave.
The time we spent in the Big Room was not nearly long enough. If you're really interested in every formation, plan for a full day to explore this chamber. It has a lot to offer. It should be noted that photography in this area is tough. Things are far apart and even a good flash won't do justice for a room this size.