The most spectacular stalactites and stalagmites in the world are apart of the “Chandelier Ballroom” in Lechuguilla caves Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. This cave is probably one of the most well-known caves in the world. Here the stalactites and stalagmites are created from the reaction of hydrogen sulfide gas and groundwater in the caves mixing with the gypsum enriched cave walls. This reaction forms some of the most amazing crystalline looking stalactites and stalagmites in the world. After traveling through this area of the caves you begin to see what looks like an underground ponds, and they are. This river is formed from the ground water falling through the cracks in the limestone and gathering in the bottom of the cave where the limestone is not present. These pools form and are named the “Last Pools” because people believed that if the surface water on earth dried up, these underground pond would still be there. It is here where another amazing geologic feature, “shelfstone tables.” These formation are called this because they look like shelves almost floating in mid air. The stalactites drop down from the ground until they reach the pools. Its here the minerals from the limestone gather and begin to spread out over the surface of the water. This is where the old water table used to be. The minerals gathered here and could not spread out fast enough because of the stagnant mineral rich water, so they began to pile up and spread out slowly. The solid minerals then began to precipitate out forming what looks like a table. Carlsbad Caverns, where these formations are located is one of the most spectacular places in the world, and should be visited by all geological enthusiasts.
I was blessed enough to be able to go visit this set of caves when I went to Albuquerque, New Mexico for the national bowling tournament. While here there is so much to do, not just the caves. The National Park is huge and there is all kinds of stuff you can do. I was able to go whitewater rafting as well as rock climbing. It does cost a little but of money to get in the caves, but I believe it is worth it to preserve this beautiful land area. I would recommend this trip to any geological enthusiasts.