Last updated: March 10, 2017
Spring Break: Preparation for Summer
By Lacey Thomas
By Lacey Thomas
The month of March is always a very exciting time for the National Park Service. Most schools across the country let out for a week at some point during the month, and families seize the opportunity to get out and travel to the nation’s wonders. At Carlsbad Caverns we see a jump in visitation, and we consider it a great time to test out our new ideas for the summer schedule.
In winter we cut back on the number and types of tours offered because there are so many fewer visitors. In July we average between three and four thousand people per day. In January that number can drop to two hundred people per day. March is when we rangers can dust off our caving gear and get reacquainted with the less visited parts of the cave.
In addition to changes in tours, the top side of the park is experiencing its own spring rejuvenation. This year on March 1 the yuccas began to bloom. The chollas have started to send out yellow arms of new cacti. Soon the mescal bush will begin to bloom. Insects have commenced buzzing during the afternoon, and the cave swallows have once again taken up residence in the cave’s mouth. All of these signs point to one of the year’s most anticipated events—the return of the Brazilian free-tailed bats.
Winter brings about howling winds, cold temperatures, and hazy afternoons. The ocotillos appear as standing dead thorny sticks. The prickly pears lose their luster. The only animals routinely making appearances around the natural entrance are ground squirrels. With the beginning of spring, all that changes. Spring Break gives people from across the country the opportunity to witness the season of rebirth and new beginnings.
If you are lucky enough to join us this month, we’ll be pleased to see you. There’s nothing like groups of kids excited to experience their first cave, moms and dads pleased to be out of the work and school ruts, and the other adults indulging in their love of the outdoors. We just ask before you leave home, please take some time to prepare for your trip. Check out the park website for hours and tour descriptions. Expect lines at peak times. Use pullouts to view wildlife as stopping in the middle of the road is dangerous for everyone. These tips are helpful for here or any other park unit you may visit. Please come and enjoy your parks. We look forward to your visit no matter what time of the year it is.