From a young age, Jim White explored the cavern with his homemade wire ladder. When he grew older, most people did not even believe such caves existed. He gave many of the rooms their names, 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.
The town of Carlsbad, which lends its name to the Cavern and National Park, is in turn named after the Czech town formerly known by the German name Karlsbad (modern spelling Carlsbad) and now known by the Czech name Karlovy Vary, both of which mean “Charles’ Bath[s].”
Until 1932, visitors to the cavern had to walk down a switch back ramp-sidewalk that took them 750 feet below the surface. The walk back up was hard on a lot of visitors. In 1932 the National Park opened up a large visitor center building that contained two elevators that would take visitors to the caverns below. The new center included a cafeteria, waiting room, museum and first aid area.
Overlooking the Pecos River Valley, this fascinating park exhibits the varied plant and animal life of the arid Chihuahuan Desert region. Visitors can observe caged animals like snakes, lizards and birds of prey, plus larger animals such as bison and antelope, which are held in pens. Or walk along a nature trail past cacti, agaves, yuccas and other native plant life.