Carlsbad Caverns National Park lies beneath the Guadalupe Mountains and the Chihuahuan Desert of southeastern New Mexico. Carlsbad Caverns includes a large cave chamber — The Big Room — a natural limestone chamber almost 4,000 feet long, 625 feet wide, and 255 feet high at the highest point. It is the fifth largest chamber in North America and the twenty-eighth largest in the world. Carlsbad Caverns is one of over 300 limestone caves in a fossil reef laid down by an inland sea 250 to 280 million years ago — formed when sulfuric acid dissolved limestone leaving behind caverns of all sizes.
A Little History…
Carlsbad-area cowboy, Jim White, explored the cavern with his homemade wire ladder. He named many of the rooms, including the Big Room, New Mexico Room, Kings Palace, Queens Chamber, Papoose Room, and Green Lake Room. He also named many of the cave’s more prominent formations, such as the Totem Pole, Witch’s Finger, Giant Dome, Bottomless Pit, Fairyland, Iceberg Rock, Temple of the Sun, and Rock of Ages.
Until 1932, visitors to Carlsbad Caverns had to walk down a switchback ramp that took them 750 feet below the surface. The walk back up was tiring for some. In 1932 the national park opened up a large visitor center building that contained two elevators that would take visitors in and out of the caverns below. The new center included a cafeteria, waiting room, museum and first aid area.
The park has two historic districts on the National Register of Historic Places – the Cavern Historic District and the Rattlesnake Springs Historic District. The park museum, including the park archives, contains approximately one million cultural resource artifacts that are being preserved and protected.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park’s cultural resources represent a long and varied continuum of human use starting in prehistoric times, and illustrating many adaptations to the Chihuahuan Desert environment. Human activities, including prehistoric and historic American Indian occupations (some of their cooking ring sites and pictographs have been found within the present day boundaries of the park), European exploration and settlement, industrial exploitation, commercial and cavern accessibility development and tourism have left reminders of their presence, and have contributed to the rich and diverse history of the area.
Twelve to fourteen thousand years ago, Native Americans lived in the Guadalupe Mountains. By the 1500s, Spanish explorers were passing through present-day west Texas and southeastern New Mexico. Spain claimed the southwest until 1821 when Mexico revolted and claimed independence. Mexico, fighting the westward expansion of United States in the late 1840s, lost the southwest to the US. In 1850, New Mexico Territory was created, and for the next 30 years the cultural conflict between Native Americans and the US government continued. Eddy, New Mexico, the former name of Carlsbad, was established in 1888 and New Mexico became a state in 1912.
The Flight of the Mexican Free-Tailed Bats
Seventeen species of bats live in Carlsbad Caverns, including a large number of Mexican free-tailed bats. It has been estimated that the population of these bats once numbered in the millions but has declined drastically in modern times. The cause of this decline is unknown but the pesticide DDT is often listed as a primary cause. Many techniques have been used to estimate the bat population in the cave. The most recent and most successful of these attempts involved the use of thermal imaging camera to track and count the bats. A count from 2005 estimated a peak of 793,000. The Mexican free-tailed bats are present from April or May to late October or early November. They emerge in a dense group, corkscrewing upwards and counterclockwise, usually starting around sunset and lasting about three hours.
About the Carlsbad Caverns National Park Poster
The Carlsbad Caverns National Park poster is an original work by Robert Decker and features the iconic Temple of the Sun in the Big Room, nearly 80 stories beneath the surface. The poster measures 13″ x 19″ and is created in the style of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) of the 1930s and 1940s, posters are printed on “Conservation,” a 100% recycled, domestically produced (80 lb.) paper stock with soy-based inks. From start to finish, each poster is 100% American Made.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park Artist Proofs are the first 25 posters pulled from each print run. They are numbered 1-25, and are dated and signed. Each print features the color bars used by the pressman to make sure that the print stays registered and colors stay consistent throughout the print run. Carlsbad Caverns National Park posters are 13″ x 20″.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park Canvas Prints are printed on superior-quality, artist-grade canvas, designed for museum display and gallery exhibitions. This 350 gsm, acid-free canvas has a tight, natural weave which maximizes image quality, while also revealing the texture of an artist’s canvas. Carlsbad Caverns National Park canvas prints are available in three sizes: 16″ x 24″ 20″ x 30″ and 24″ x 36″, are shipped free and are ready to hang.
About the Artist
Photographer and graphic artist Rob Decker studied photography with Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park during the summer of 1979. The experience solidified his love of photography and our National Parks. Now he is on a journey to photograph and create iconic WPA-style posters of all 59 major national parks as we celebrate the next 100 years of the National Park Service.
“I feel that it’s important to protect America’s special places, and to connect people with nature. And it’s up to all of us to pitch in. Perhaps more importantly, we need to inspire the next generation of park stewards. I’m trying to make a difference by giving back to the amazing organizations that support our National Parks. I donate 10% of annual profits, so when you buy one of these original works, you’re helping these trusts, conservancies and associations, too.”
Robert B. Decker retains the sole copyright of the original Carlsbad Caverns National Park poster image. Any unauthorized reproduction violates international copyright law.
Robert B. Decker – Limited Edition Carlsbad Caverns National Park Posters – www.National-Park-Posters.com