Posted in: Campground Review, Exploring New Mexico, Food, YouTube Video Link

KOA Carlsbad, New Mexico: Campground Review

For our stay in Carlsbad, New Mexico, we stayed at the Carlsbad KOA. It’s a little bit out of town, about 20 minutes.

The campground was a nice one, with plenty of things to keep the kids busy. There was a large outdoor checkers board and a porch swing by the office. The main building housed an office/store, restaurant (delivered to your site, food made on-site in smokers), bathrooms/showers (men’s main bathroom closed for our stay), and a laundry room. The campground had WiFi (no streaming), picnic areas, fire pits at sites, pool (closed for the season for our stay), gaga ball court (boys’ favorite), tether ball, playground (with a set of bathrooms/showers nearby), and fenced dog area. Most of the sites were pull-through. There were a few tent sites and a few cabins to stay in as well. The rows were nicely labeled to help find your site. Once we were checked in (they gave us some cute red/black plaid can koosies at check in), a staff member led us to our site. The front desk recommended using a water filter for the drinking water.

The office store sold some souvenir type things, grocery items, ice ($3/10 lb bag), and firewood bundles ($10/bundle).

The spots were nicely spaced, with plenty of room for our trailer and truck to fit on the paved spot. There were only a couple of downsides (which they didn’t have control over): very windy at times and a fair amount of flies.

The campground was about 20 minutes from town, about 45 minutes to Carlsbad Cavern National Park, and about 1 hour from Roswell. Carlsbad (the town) had an Albertsons, a Walmart, and a Lowe’s, plus plenty of fast food options. There were also plenty of fuel stations in town, a lot with diesel. Most of them, however, would be difficult with a bigger RV/trailer.

Everyone we interacted with at the campground was nice and helpful. If we were back in the area, I would stay here again.

VIDEO: Carlsbad KOA Campground Tour

Side Note: Due to Covid, we could only go to National Parks/National lands. The State Parks (even all outdoor ones) are closed to non-New Mexico residents. Masks are also required indoors. The staff at the KOA did a great job with this, but the regular people out and about and employees in other stores did not.

SUMMARY OF CAMPGROUND:

Our rating: 2.5-3 out of 5 hitches

Cell Phone Reception: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile

Laundry: Yes

Bathrooms/Showers: Yes, partially open for repairs

RV Sites: Pull through, a few back-in

Pop Up Tents/Gazebos/Outdoor Rugs On-Site: No

Amenities: picnic table and fire pit/grill at each site, cable, dog park, gaga ball court, tether ball

Cabins: Yes

Tent Camping: Yes

Full Hook Ups: Yes. 20/30/50 Amps

Pool: Yes, closed for season when we were there

Food On-Site: Yes

Camp Store: Yes

WiFi: Yes

Fishing: No

Posted in: Exploring New Mexico, Museums & Tours, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Looking For Aliens In Roswell, New Mexico

Roswell was about an hour drive from our campground. Since it was so close, I wanted to go see it. We ended up going on my birthday! After everyone was done with school/work, we drove up. We got there about 4:00pm. Although an hour is a quick drive to us at this point, it seemed longer with the emptiness of the land. The way home was very dark (no street lights unless in a town) and smelly (processing plants).

We visited the UFO International Museum. (Cost us $14 for entry tickets.) There was a machine to take your temperature as you came inside.

The exhibits had a lot of reading. None of the smaller video monitors were on, so it was more like standing and reading a book. The Research Library and Video Room were roped off. The spaceship display in the center of the room was probably the neatest thing in there!

There was a really neat gift shop as well, so we spent a little time doing some shopping at the end.

It seemed like most of the shops were already closed when we got to town or closed at 5:00pm. (If you are going, I would check with each store. Maps had listed the Visitor Center as open until 5:00pm, but the sign on the door said 2:00.)

There were fun street lamps along the main street decorated with alien eyes! (Which I later learned on RoadsideAmerica, were not even done by the city! A group snuck in one night and applied them to some of the lamps. Here’s the link to the story.)

There were a few alien statues, but it seemed like it was mostly done by the individual stores. The McDonald’s was amazing! The outside was shaped like a UFO, complete with lights.

VIDEO: Walking Through The International UFO Museum and Main Street of Roswell, New Mexico

The town was ok. I would not make a specific trip out there. Maybe it was because so many things were closed, but there didn’t seem to be a lot to do. I also thought the town would have embraced the alien theme and would have been kitschier.

Posted in: Exploring New Mexico, Hiking, Museums & Tours, National Park, National Parks, School, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Carlsbad Caverns National Park: No Bats, but Still Amazing

We visited Carlsbad Caverns National Park and it was amazing. It was both breathtaking, awe inspiring, and scary.

Right now the timed entrance tickets are not being used. According to their website, there are some days near the holidays that the park will be using the timed tickets again, so check their website if you are going near Thanksgiving and Christmas. The website also stated that there was currently a limit to 1,000 people/day.

The Park opened at 8:00am, Cavern opened at 8:30am. We got there about 7:45am, and there was already a line to get into the Visitors Center. Because of the daily entrance limit, I would try to get there as early as you can. We were in the cave about 4.5 hours.

The Visitor Center had bathrooms, 2 gift shops, a ticket booth, and an informational booth (park map, junior ranger books). There were not any ranger tours (Covid), but you can rent an audio tour ($5). I would really recommend the audio tour, it had some great information and also could be useful for kids who don’t like to (or can’t) read the signs. The Visitor Center has some interesting information at the exhibits, as well as a model of the cave.

The Cave had both elevators and a Natural Entrance. If you can, take the Natural Entrance down into the cave. It was quite the view and experience to walk these switchbacks down into the cave.

There were no bats while we were there, as it was too late in the season, but it must be amazing to see them exit at night.

It is a little scary when think about how far down you are. Nick was listening to audio tour and pointed out a section with tiny stalactites laying on the ground. They had fallen in an earthquake. Of course, then I looked to the ceiling and prayed for no shaking or earthquakes because that would really, really hurt. (There were also emergency call buttons to reach the Rangers throughout the cave. It was paved and had guardrails throughout.)

Top right picture: small fallen stalactites.

When you finish walking the cavern, it brings you to the elevators and lunch area. They sold drinks and cold items there. We took the elevators back up (it looked like maybe it was one way). The elevator rose 754 feet to get back to the Visitors Center!

Recommendations: Bring a water bottle. (No food or gum is allowed, but plain water is.) Wear boots, or at least shoes with a really good tread (some spots are slick, some are a little steep). Bring a small flashlight: you can see some cool things, and well…what if they loose power? It is completely dark when there are no lights.

VIDEO: Walking Through Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Note: The video is a little dark, as it was in a cave, but there are some neat scenes!

Jim White was the first known person to explore the cave (from 1898 to 1902). He saw what he thought was smoke and went to investigate what/where it was. The smoke turned out to be bats exiting the cave. How bored do you have to be to repel (because the Natural Entrance Switchbacks were not there), with a lantern into an unknown hole in the ground?! Seriously, it had to have been nerve wracking. He unfortunately, according to the Ranger Will talked to, never filed a claim on the cave/land. Miners came in to mine the guano and sold it to farmers, specifically to citrus groves. Eventually, the government came in and declared it a National Monument and then a National Park.