Carlsbad Caverns is one of the largest cave systems in the United States, and the focus will be on the ways organisms adapt to this type of environment. The geology of cave formations, such as stalagmites and stalactites, will also be explored.
The Significance of Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Carlsbad Caverns National Park, a world heritage site, contains large caves of world-class importance that have beautiful and diverse speleothems (cave formations); the Big Room in Carlsbad Cavern is the largest, most easily accessible chamber in North America.
Lechuguilla Cave is the deepest limestone cave in the United States; it contains speleothems and microbes found nowhere else in the world.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park preserves a portion of the Capitan Reef -- one of the best preserved, exposed Permian-age fossil reefs in the world. The park's caves and canyons provide visitors with unique opportunities to view this reef from the inside. Capitan Reef has exceptional potential for additional cave discovery, exploration and research.
The park contains one of the few protected portions of the northern Chihuahuan Desert ecosystem.
Carlsbad Cavern has a world-famous colony of migratory Mexican free-tailed bats.
Many species of plants and animals in the park are at the limits of their geographic distribution, including the northernmost and one of the largest colonies of migratory cave swallows in the United States.
The park's cultural resources represent a long and varied continuum of human use starting in prehistoric times and illustrating many adaptations to the desert environment.
Capitan Reef provides extraordinary scenic vistas, both from the top of the escarpment and from the rugged canyons below; the quality of these vistas depends on excellent air quality.