• Photo of the steep natural entrance of Carlsbad Caverns

    Carlsbad Caverns

    National Park New Mexico

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    The 9-mile scenic Loop Road (Desert Drive) is closed due to flood damage. The road will reopen as soon as repairs are done. This scenic road does not affect access to the visitor center or the cave.

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3D Photography Exhibit of Lechuguilla Cave

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Date: May 9, 2011
Contact: Paula Bauer

Over a year ago an idea sprouted hundreds of feet underground among a group of cavers exploring the vast subterranean maze known as Lechuguilla Cave in Carlsbad Caverns National Park. On May 7, 2011 this idea bloomed into a three-dimensional photography exhibit called the Underground of Enchantment developed by the Carlsbad Museum & Art Center (CMAC). The exhibit includes several poster-sized 2D images presented in 3D in the viewers provided, brief 3D slide programs with glasses provided, and a display of hand-drawn postcards by children from around the world. CMAC will host the exhibit through August before it travels to several locations in New Mexico and neighboring states and finally spends the summer of 2012 at the Carlsbad Caverns National Park visitor center.

The driving force behind the creation of the exhibit was Malgorzata "Gosia" Allison-Kosior, a Carlsbad Museum employee as well as a seasonal interpreter at Carlsbad Caverns National Park and long-time volunteer caver. To bring the exhibit to life, Gosia worked with an international team of cave photographers, researchers, and explorers with the same enthusiasm for bringing to light and sharing the beauty and scientific wonders of Lechuguilla Cave. Over 130 miles of passages have been mapped in "Lech", as it is familiarly called, since its discovery in 1986. A large array of fragile speleothems (cave decorations) and cave pools illustrate the cave's splendor and a long list of research papers in geology, mineralogy, and microbiology speak to its scientific significance. Still, to most of us the cave will be forever out of reach except through photographs, maps, and videos. In addition to the need to protect the delicate formations within the cave, it is in designated wilderness and will not be developed for public visitation. Even among cave explorers and researchers, Lech is an extreme aspiration, literally difficult to explore as it requires technical rope climbing ability, often multiple days underground, and adherence to strict conservation protocols.

As part of the opening ceremony, Carlsbad's mayor Dale Janway read a proclamation, which said in part:

WHEREAS, the City of Carlsbad recognizes its dependence on the region's underground natural resources, and recognizes the value of Lechuguilla Cave as an underground wilderness resource that needs to be protected and conserved for future generations;

WHEREAS, the Underground of Enchantment exhibit produced by the Carlsbad Museum & Art Center celebrates the mystery and beauty of Lechuguilla Cave, the spirit of exploration and research, the dedication and determination to protect and conserve, and the creative expression of those who not only dare to dream of being explorers, but also live that dream;

Now therefore, I, Dale Janway, Mayor of the City of Carlsbad and on behalf of the Carlsbad City Council, hereby proclaim May 7, 2011 through August 31, 2011 as the season honoring Lechuguilla Cave of Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Exclamations echoed around the room as people tried out the viewers and saw the flat, though superbly executed images gain depth and texture as they jumped into three dimensions. "It's as if you're right there, in the room, as if you can touch it!" said one surprised visitor. If the animated conversations and thoughtful questions were a measure of success, then the kernel of an idea to share the wonders of Lechuguilla Cave already appeared to be bearing the fruit of awe, awareness, and stewardship.

For a list of photographers and other contributors to the exhibit and schedule of events, go to:  http://www.undergroundofenchantment.com/

Did You Know?

Permian ocean bottom.

The limestone rock that holds Carlsbad Cavern is full of ocean fossil plants and animals from a time before the dinosaurs when the southeastern corner of New Mexico was a coastline similar to the Florida Keys.