The Big Room
Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico
Here are seven photos from the Big Room in New Mexico's Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
When Consumer Reports magazine rated national parks in 1997 based on readers' experiences, Carlsbad Caverns tied for second place. That lofty position is surely due to the spectacular Big Room, a gigantic and highly decorated cave.
The Big Room is rare—perhaps unique—among caves in that self-guided tours are the norm. Not only does this allow visitors to view the formations at their own pace, it also enables quality photography. Lighting is dim, so taking good photos generally requires a tripod and long exosures. Flash typically doesn't work well because, assuming the formation is close enough for the flash to reach it, the light can fill in the shadows that show the formation's detail and beauty.
The Big Room Trail is 1.25 miles (2.0 kilometers) and may be reached by elevator from the visitor center. Alternatively one may enter via the Natural Entrance Trail, which is also 1.25 miles (2.0 kilometers) with a descent of about 750 feet (229 meters).