Carlsbad, NM

Explore the American Southwest with this southwest USA itinerary through New Mexico, the southwestern corner of Utah and Northern Arizona. Get the Inspiration you need to plan your own trip

by and - last updated on 6/6/2024

This was day 5 of our Southwest Road-Trip and today's plan is to do the 166 mile drive from Alamogordo to Carlsbad, with stops at the Tunnel Vista Observation Site on U.S. Highway 82 and Trestle Depot Recreation Area in Cloudcroft, NM. Since we had date/time advanced reservations at the Caverns, we did not have to worry about anything except where to park our rental car at the correct time.

Tunnel Vista Observation Site   Map

This was our first stop, only 10 miles from our Alamogordo Hotel and on the western edge of the Lincoln National Forest. It is located on U.S. Highway 82 and it is high enough to where the view looking west over the Tularosa Basin, is very good.

There are no amenities here, but the turnout style parking lot is large and the Fresnel Creek below the parking lot has carved a small canyon. It was accessible at one point, but there is now a stout fence that precludes anyone from climbing down into the canyon.

Explore the American Southwest with this southwest USA itinerary through New Mexico, the southwestern corner of Utah and Northern Arizona. Get the Inspiration you need to plan your own trip
Tularosa Basin
Explore the American Southwest with this southwest USA itinerary through New Mexico, the southwestern corner of Utah and Northern Arizona. Get the Inspiration you need to plan your own trip
Fresnel Creek looking West
Explore the American Southwest with this southwest USA itinerary through New Mexico, the southwestern corner of Utah and Northern Arizona. Get the Inspiration you need to plan your own trip
Site Marker
Explore the American Southwest with this southwest USA itinerary through New Mexico, the southwestern corner of Utah and Northern Arizona. Get the Inspiration you need to plan your own trip
US 82 below the Turnout
 More Info for Tunnel Vista Observation Site
  • U.S. Forest Service Page for the Tunnel Vista Observation Site
  • Tunnel Vista Observation Site "All Trails" Website Article
  • Our Tunnel Vista Observation Site Image Gallery
  • Tunnel Vista Observation Site Google Images Set
 

Mexican Canyon Railroad Trestle   Map

We had originally planned on entering the Trestle Depot Recreation Area and hiking the Trestle Trail, but we were making such good time on our drive to Carlsbad that we arrived in Cloudcroft, NM prior to the opening time. So we stopped at Trestle Visa Observation Site point on U.S. Highway 82 and got some imagery and video.

The Trestle is a massive wooden railroad bridge built in 1889. It's a testament to the engineering marvels of the era and still stands today, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The rail line from El Paso, TX was completed to Cloudcroft on January 25, 1900.

Today's Trestle visitors can hike the Cloud-Climbing Trestle Trail, which follows the old railway path, offering scenic views and a glimpse into the past. The town of Cloudcroft, NM was the end point for this railroad, as trains used to service this mountain area from much warmer desert cities else where such as; El Paso, TX and Alamogordo, NM, etc. The 8,675 elevation of Cloudcroft was considered to be healthy and a lot cooler than cities in the desert areas.

The Cloudcroft Railroad ceased operating in 1947 and the rail line was abandoned. As you can see in our images, the railroad trestle was blocked off at both ends.

 
 More Info for the Mexican Canyon Trestle Area
  • Mexican Canyon Trestle Wikipedia Article
  • Mexican Canyon Trestle Google Images Set
  • U.S. Forest Service Trestle Recreation Area Page
 

Carlsbad Caverns National Park   Map

This is a large park, covering a surface area of 46,766 acres or 73 square miles. The Cavern's "Big Room" at 8.2 acres, is the largest chamber in North America and the 32nd largest in the world. The Cavern has a number of underground chambers, including one of the largest ever discovered. The total length of the rooms and passages is still unknown, but the explored part of the main cavern is more than 30 miles long, of which 3 miles are open to visitors. Of the three major levels, the deepest is 1,027 feet below ground level.

Since we had already made advance reservations for our visit, we timed our arrival and were able to walk right in and enter the elevator that took us 750 feet down into the cavern. The tour trail enters the "Big Room" after you pass through the air lock. The air lock allows the caverns humdity level to remain at a near constant of 90%. In addition, the temperature is a constant 56 degrees farenheit (you need to dress accordingly).

We were able to utilize our National Park Service (NPS) Lifetime "Senior Lifetime Pass" to visit Carlsbad National Park. We have had this pass now for over ten years and have used it over & over again anytime we visit any NPS facility. The pass is a huge bargain, and one that we would heartily propose you investigate.

More Info for Carlsbad Caverns National Park 

  • National Park Service Page for Carlsbad Caverns National Park
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park Wikipedia Article
  • Our Carlsbad Caverns National Park Image Gallery
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park Google Images Set
  • Youtube Search Results for "Carlsbad Caverns National Park"
  • Amazon Search Results for "Carlsbad Caverns National Park"
  • Our Youtube Channel
 
 

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