A Tour of the Deepest Cave in the United States


14 Responses to “A Tour of the Deepest Cave in the United States”

  1. foucalt says:

    Thinking about the extremophile bacteria mentioned in the clip has inspired a post about them over at Subterranean Design – what could we do if colonies of lithoautotrophic bacteria could create new caverns on a non-geologic timescale?

  2. Anonymous says:

    To break in, you’d need to find it. Not that tough, except for the unpaved roads. Then you’d need to haul whatever tools you were going to use to the entrance; in the Guads, it’s either too hot or too cold to be doing that kind of stuff. You don’t just drive up to this cave and pull out your come-along and wad of Kinepack that you bought at the 7-11 in Carlsbad.

    Of course, just to get down to the gate, you’d need to make the rappel. And once you got inside the gate- past the airlocks and everything, they’re not exactly huge engineering tasks, but still- then you’d need to make it past Boulder Falls, which is a couple of hundred feet to rappel.

    Really- none of that is a huge task. I mean, it’s beyond what most people would want to do, but it’s still do-able. The big problem is getting back out. By the time you get to pretties, you’ve gone through several harsh drops, technical challenges for even decent cavers. They’re pretty safe, except from the nimrods who insist on getting the best pictures so they trample the good stuff. Chandelier Ballroom has been messed up because people want the perfect picture so bad.

  3. fnc says:

    No less remarkable, the Naica mine in Mexico has discovered chambers containing crystals 50 feet long weighing several tons. In pictures, the chamber looks like the inside of a geode with a tiny human walking around on the crystals. It’s fascinating to me we can live in this day and age and still stumble upon wonders like this.



    There’s a documentary about the Naica cave, highlighting the hellish conditions scientists have to endure down there to do their work. Interesting stuff if you’re into rocks.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The clip in question is from the BBC Planet Earth series, produced by Fothergill (same guy who did the Blue Planet series.) The Discovery channel replaces Attenborough’s excellent narration with sigourney weaver’s icky one, so find the BBC version. Amazon UK happily sells bbc dvds to the states.

    Nova had an episode a few years ago, Mysterious Life of Caves, that included Lechuguilla. The video isn’t available online, but there are stills and interesting background info:

    One of Nevada Barr’s excellent mysteries, Blind Descent, takes place largely inside of Lechuguilla.

  5. Beverly Stayart says:

    It’s amazing that this cave wasn’t even discovered until 1986.

  6. Ned Ryerson says:

    Is this from PBS or Discovery? Whats the name of the program?

  7. Eric Hanson says:

    My friend Gene Cooper has created an amazing VR tour of Lechuguilla, here: http://www.360parks.com/lechuguilla_cave_virtual_tour.shtml

    Not trying to hawk his wares, but it is an amazing set of images that few can see in person. There are some free previews on the page.

  8. Phrosty says:


  9. Andrew says:

    Does it have some of the most unique geography in the world or some of the most unique geology in the world?

  10. jill says:

    they have a gate designed to keep the cave from drying out.

    in 2003, when I was a volunteer at carlsbad caverns national park, I was told that you had to be:

    a) an experienced caver
    b) and be able to measure and do caving exploration/research/mapping to go on an expedition.

  11. christackett says:


    I think this cave episode of Planet Earth is appearing tonight on Planet Earth.


    You can check to see if you have Planet Earth in your area here: http://planetgreen.channelfinder.net/

    I think this is the same one that has the mountain of bat guano.

  12. Xopher says:

    Come now, danlalan. He might break things on his way down. That would be bad.

  13. danlalan says:

    No, but they do have a locked steel gate installed….

  14. danlalan says:

    By all means, Mojave, you should go break into a federally protected site in a national park. Don’t forget to bring extra batteries.

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