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Trip Report-Part 4-Roswell-Carlsbad Caverns 7/30-8/2

Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
Level Contributor
6,393 posts
61 reviews
Trip Report-Part 4-Roswell-Carlsbad Caverns 7/30-8/2

This report is continued from the Alamogordo forum!

July 30, 2016

This morning, our impression of the Fairfield Inn in Alamogordo took a negative turn. The breakfast was very poor. The juices were watered down, and the hot items were not hot. There were few tables when we arrived, so we opted to sit outside. You needed a key to go in and out for more breakfast food/drinks, which was rather inconvenient. The breakfast attendant seemed to be having a very bad day and did not smile once. The handle on the Waffle maker had broken, and that seemed to throw her in a tailspin. My husband tried to tell her nicely that the coffee had run out, but she was frazzled and quite argumentative, not listening to him. He had to repeat himself a few times before she finally got it. Her body language showed she was ready to verbally attack just about anyone. The door to the outside seating area stayed open because it was sticking, and she angrily closed it. She appeared to be the only one working the breakfast, so I guess they were short staffed here also. The hotel really needs to work on its staff morale. The facility is nice, but the people don’t seem to enjoy their jobs much. The check out went well, and we headed on to Roswell.

We were a bit skeptical, wondering how we would like it there. We decided to visit the International UFO Museum. We all wound up finding the story fascinating. The events of Roswell occurred shortly after dropping the A bomb on Hiroshima. Many think the events are linked to nuclear warfare. On July 5, 1947, a rancher and his neighbor’s son came upon a field of debris 300 yards wide and ¾ of a mile long. The rancher took a sackful of debris to the sheriff of Roswell, who called an intelligence officer at the military base. He comes to investigate. The Intelligence Officer shows the debris to his son and boss. A local funeral director received a call from the military asking for child-sized caskets and how soon he could get more. The funeral director reported seeing strange things in ambulances and ran into a nurse who was a friend. She felt the debris was toxic and told her friend to leave before he became ill. The military escorted him out, threatening his life if he told anyone what he had seen.

At first, a press release was issued stating a UFO recovery had occurred. Then, after the Intelligence Officer showed the debris to a military general, it got replaced by weather balloon debris. A new press release came out, and the Intelligence Officer was told to revise his story. The nurse friend of the funeral director claimed to have seen an alien. She was transferred to England by the military, and shortly after, she was declared dead by the military.

We watched the documentary and observed exhibits. Many people signed affidavits claiming their lives were threatened if they uttered a word about the events to anyone. Everyone claims no debris is left. I truly wonder what really happened here. I was so glad we stopped in Roswell, as I found the story extremely interesting. Even for those who are skeptical, there seems to be a lot of people who claim SOMETHING happened….

We continued on to our next stop, Carlsbad. Carlsbad Caverns has been on our bucket list forever. We checked in to the Sleep Inn & Suites, one of the newer Carlsbad hotels. Check in went smoothly, and the desk clerks were very knowledgeable about the Bat Flight program at Carlsbad. We decided to rest up and head there around 6:15. We got to the caverns about 6:45. We got a good seat in the amphitheater, and the program began at 7:30 sharp. The ranger told us there was a chance we might not see any bats fly out, but around 7:55, we were all rewarded, as it seemed like close to half a million bats emerged from the cave entrance. Their movements reminded me of the Tasmanian Devil cartoon and the dark, whirlpool motion he makes. We watched a sea of black, which was truly amazing. The flying out went on for several minutes. We left when it began to slow down, which didn’t happen until 15 or 20 minutes in. Others left before we did.

Some families should not have been there at all. While watching the bat flight, you must be very quiet, and young children cannot handle that. The family behind us had 5 very antsy young children who had to leave as soon as the bats started flying. I personally don’t recommend this for any child under age 7, as sitting through the event takes a lot of discipline, and sadly parents like the ones behind us don’t choose to keep their kids under strict watch. Their one little boy was dangerously close to an open fence where he could have easily fallen through. Sadly, the mother chose to just “let him go.” Fortunately, nothing happened, this time. These children not only ran around, but they kept bumping into me and talked the entire time. I wish some parents really thought things through before taking their young children to events they won’t truly understand.

That being said, we still really enjoyed the bat flight!

July 31, 2016

Finally, our day to tour Carlsbad Caverns had arrived. My family wanted to hike down the natural entrance, but I don’t have good solid balance and tend to slip easily, and the ranger said the hike down can be slippery. Therefore, I said I’d rather take the elevator down. When we got there, we had no wait for the elevator (arrived around 9:30), and this enabled us to spend more time in the cave. We spent over an hour in the Big Room , and my family got tired of my endless picture taking. I felt like I was in Fairyland. I have never seen so many formations in a cave.

At noon, we embarked on the King’s Palace Tour with a ranger. Dustin was an excellent tour guide and talked about the bats, how the cave was discovered by Jimmy White, the limited lighting he had, and the specialness of caves. Ranger Dustin said that many people actually fear caves and don’t associate them with national parks. They think of mountains, waterfalls and wildlife. He talked about how long it took for the formations to happen, and how they still continue to grow, ever so slowly. He was a sculpture/art major in college and put an artistic spin on the formations. Interestingly, his first assignment as a ranger was at Mt. Rushmore, which I found fascinating because of my love for the Black Hills.

After our tour, we waited about 20 minutes for an elevator up to the visitor’s center. We visited the gift shop. Some of the items were very reasonably priced, and since this park had been on our bucket list for so long, we bought quite a few things. We headed out around 3 p.m. and had dinner at Danny’s Place. They had excellent BBQ here. I really enjoyed the pulled pork. For those visiting Carlsbad, many restaurants close on Sundays, so we didn’t have a whole lot of choices. Carlsbad doesn’t have much except for industry, hotels and restaurants.

August 1, 2016

Today, we got up and headed to breakfast, knowing we would be off to El Paso…our trip was winding down, and we were going home tomorrow!

I had forgot to mention about the Sleep Inn Breakfast. It was a bit bland, but passable. I actually found this chain very basic and really overpriced for what we got. However, all lodging in Carlsbad is overpriced. The beds here were lower end and not nearly as comfortable as the other places we had stayed. Cleanliness was very good, however.

Our main event planned for today was a drive through of Guadalupe Mountains National Park on the way to El Paso. I had read this was more of a back-country hiking park with very few short hikes. We figured we would still drive through since it was on the way. The park is only about 40 miles from Carlsbad Caverns.

We stopped at the Visitor’s Center and found the store and exhibits a bit limited. There was a short hiking trail at the center that led to the Butterfield Stage Station ruins. This was called the Piney Trail and was only .7 miles RT. The views of the mountains were beautiful and I took some very nice pics. We decided to continue to El Paso and arrived around 1 p.m. It was about 2 hours, 45 mins to El Paso from Carlsbad.

Check in to the Comfort Inn I10 Airport went smoothly, and we were able to get in early. We took advantage of the business center and printed our boarding passes for our flights home with ease. The room was very quiet despite the hotel being very close to the interstate. The room was very clean, and I found the beds average.

We rested from travelling and headed to the El Paso Municipal Rose Garden, which was a free attraction. No one else was there, and the blooms were extremely colorful and varied.

We then headed to another Cheddars Scratch Kitchen, the same Texas based chain we enjoyed in Tucson. Although the food was good again, service started out rocky. None of the wait staff wanted to claim our table. My DH went to the manager to request service, and the manager wound up waiting on us. He did a very nice job, but I have no idea why he couldn’t get anyone to take our table.

The Cielo Park Mall was nearby, so we walked around there before heading back to our hotel. We needed to get to bed fairly early since we had an early flight out the next day.

August 2, 2016

We were up around 5:30 a.m. to get ready to leave. Breakfast began at 6 a.m. and was very good quality. They had a waffle maker, omelette patties and biscuits, sausage, and continental items. We were fortunate to fuel up since we’d be flying all day. We arrived at the airport around 7:30 a.m. and were greeted with almost no lines anywhere. The car rental return went very well..I have to say we found the Dollar Rental car staff one of the nicest we have dealt with. We liked the convenience of the small airport, and overall, it was a very pleasant experience. Our Southwest flights were both on time, and we arrived home by 6:30 p.m.

Overall Impressions:

We have done some great road trips over the years, but this ranks up there as one of our best. We drove over 2200 miles, but we saw a lot. I know there were a few things we probably missed, but overall, we saw what we came to see. We didn’t realize how “lonely” southern New Mexico was between its major towns, and we were pleasantly surprised to find Tucson to have a more rural feel. The views in Sedona were amazing. We consider ourselves lucky to have seen so many beautiful places.

Buy an annual national parks pass. When you are travelling and seeing a lot of parks like we did on this trip, it pays for itself in no time!

These areas are HOT in the summer. Stay hydrated, wear a hat, use sunscreen, and buy cooling towels. They really do make a difference in making you more comfortable.

Many thanks to all those who contribute to the forums. Although I didn’t ask too many questions, I did a lot of lurking and always found a wealth of information!

4 posts
1. Re: Trip Report-Part 4-Roswell-Carlsbad Caverns 7/30-8/2

We just moved to Carlsbad and I had to comment on you saying that Carlsbad doesn't have much. That was our thought too, before we got here. But there is actually quite a lot else to enjoy about the town and the surrounding area. There is the Pecos River which is very pleasant for swimming or boating or fishing, there is the water park and 2 splash pads and several playgrounds for kids as well. Also a rec center with table and arcade games. There is the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State park, which is interesting and educational. There is antiques shopping and a gallery and a wine and painting type place in the little downtown area, and a few little mom and pop clothing stores, a shop with mexican tile and arts and crafts, a cute little ice cream shop and a fudge shop and a froyo place spread throughout town. There is a small museum at the library that is worth a quick visit. There is the 1950's drive-in movie theater (depending on dates you visit), one of the last in New Mexico, that makes for a fun vintage night out. Also a community theater. Very nearby there is Brantley Lake state park, and Sitting Bull Falls. Also 2 golf courses, free to use tennis courts, a shooting range, and plenty of other athletic fields.

And only a short drive from Roswell, White Sands and Alamogordo, Cloudcroft and Ruidoso for Mountain hiking and skiing, Artesia for more occasional cultural events and more museums,

Basically, there is a lot to explore for such a small town in the middle of nowhere if you can enjoy the simple pleasures of a small town. We lived in Phoenix before this, but I don't miss it. Sure we don't have a Trader Joes or a hopping ngihtlife, but we have stunning sunsets and southwestern thunderstorms. I honestly don't know what else people would ask for in a town.

Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
33,178 posts
6,438 reviews
2. Re: Trip Report-Part 4-Roswell-Carlsbad Caverns 7/30-8/2

What a nice trip and happy you got to see the bats.

Your observations about what could be better (i.e. customer service, kids watching the bats, etc) are all helpful observations and tips too.

I am happy you had a good time and thanks so much for your trip report.

3. Re: Trip Report-Part 4-Roswell-Carlsbad Caverns 7/30-8/2

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