The Big Payoff – Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns

Memorial Day was the perfect opportunity for a father and son ride down to New Mexico. The plan was to stop over at my sisters house in Castle Rock, Colorado on the way home too.

Getting ready to leave

Getting ready to leave

We took off on Thursday afternoon and rode down to Monticello, Utah where we camped. It rained a little bit down south over night, but it wasn’t bad. The temps were a little brisk with it being early in the season.

Camping in Monticello

Camping in Monticello

After a good nights rest we left and headed for Durango, Colorado. We stopped there for some fuel and ate lunch, then we headed out for New Mexico and this is when things got interesting. First of all the ride across the desert is a lonely and boring ride. It was very hot as well. We rode through the famous (for aliens) town of Roswell, New Mexico and I guess that is when the weirdness started.

As we approached our camping area (Brantley Lake State Park) just outside Carlsbad, New Mexico we both heard a strange alert noise coming from our iPhones. Both of us were connected via bluetooth to our phones, but we were talking when the alert came through. We looked at each other and wondered what that might be when an electronic voice came on and said to take cover because golf ball sized hail was in the area. What? Yikes!

I looked at the weather report on my weather.com app and it confirmed the reports. We could see some black hell 30 miles in the distance so we continued riding over to the camp area to find some shelter. On the way over we passed a line of people with cameras, who looked to be some type of local media. I continued to check my iPhone for weather updates on the way over. The alerts continued to say that the storm was headed toward Brantley Lake State Park, which was right where we were located and headed. I told my Dad that we needed to look for some shelter. I didn’t want golf ball sized hail hitting my bike! When we rolled up to the camping area we quickly found a spot and luckily most sites had small pavilions with a picnic tables under them. We were able to park a bike on either side of the picnic table, so they were protected from the elements.

Brantley Lake Stake Park

Brantley Lake Stake Park

We continued to see the crazy black storm headed our direction so we scrambled to get our tents setup. In about 10 minutes time I almost had my tent finished and my Dad wasn’t quite there when the storm hit. Hail started pounding and we dove under the pavilion for cover. The hail was relentless and lasted a good 20 minutes. It was about marble sized, which was a welcome relief, but we were sure glad to have to cover for ourselves and the bikes.

Hail at Brantley Lake State Park

Hail at Brantley Lake State Park

Once the storm passed we hit the sack and thought that the worst was over…we were wrong. A series of storms passed through all-night-long. Deafening thunder and lightning that lit up the sky. I probably got an hour of sleep the entire night. Not only did we have pounding rain along with this that penetrated my Walmart tent, but we had gusting winds that tried to blow our tents over. It was a night that I will NEVER forget. We woke up the next morning, happy to be alive and unharmed. The day was already better to have that CRAZY night over. We geared up and rolled into Carlsbad for breakfast. From there we headed straight for Carlsbad Caverns.

Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns

The payoff was well worth the long miles and abusing storms. The cave is ENORMOUS. It is several football fields deep and long. We spend 4 hours in the cave and only covered about 50%. We were satisfied though after seeing countess formations, some of them the size of an economy car.

Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns

We left Carlsbad Caverns and headed for Castle Rock, Colorado and the comfort of my sisters house. It was going to be a quick visit while we were sorta in the area. We knew it was going to be a long ride, but also knew we would have a nice bed and some rest time the next day. So we bolted that way and into the night, arriving around 11:30 PM.

Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns

After a visit and some time off the bike we headed back along I-70 in the direction of Utah. This is when things got interesting yet again. As we approached  the ski town of Vail, Colorado the snow started to fall and actually the rain started before that, which was very heavy. We suffered through it all and over the mountain passes until it eventually stopped and we were able to remove our rain gear.

It was another long day of riding as we got back home around 12:30 AM. A satisfying trip that needed a couple more days to be comfortable. The weird weather on this trip was truly incredible. You never know what mother nature will throw in your direction, so you must always prepare for the worst.

Route Map