CARLSBAD, N.M.(KRQE) – A big surprise for visitors at the Carlsbad Caverns this weekend. They’re going to get a lot more exercise than they thought. The elevators are broken.
Given a choice of walking a little more than a mile each way or taking the elevators, a lot of visitors at the Carlsbad Caverns reach for the elevator button, but not since they broke down Wednesday.
“Luckily there were no visitors on it, it was empty but we are assessing the situation now to figure out why it happened,” said Valerie Gohlke, public affairs specialist for Carlsbad Caverns.
They are working on fixing the problem but they don’t know when they will be back up and running.
“We are going to hire an outside agency with elevator engineers and they will come and look at the issue and see if they can figure out what happened, what caused it and then how to fix it,” said Gohlke.
Rangers say it could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to get the elevators back up and running. Until then if you want to see the caves you’re going to have to hike.
“On the way down it’s about a mile and a quarter, and it’s a very steep descent so you’re descending about 750 feet down a path way, a very steep path way, so about a 75 story building,” said Gohlke.
The hike down wasn’t too bad, with plenty of places to stop and rest on the way.
The hike back up is a little more difficult.
Rangers say a lot of people miss out by taking the elevator because there are a lot of sights along the way and people who hiked it Thursday agree.
“It feels good, it feels real good. I was not excited about that to begin with and I was really not excited as we kept going down and down and down and down, you know I thought, I’m gonna be down there till midnight,” said David Mattson, who hiked the caves.
Rangers couldn’t tell us what percentage of people choose the elevators over walking but they think they’re about equal.
In any case, the national park is waving all entry fees until the elevators are back on line.