As I mentioned before, we drove all the way to Carlsbad with the top down. Gorgeous sunny day. Stopped for lunch in White City (and again for dinner on the way home). The photos hardly do the caverns justice, even the ones that show the scale. This is another place, like the temples and pyramids in Egypt that just can't be explained with words and photos, given the immense scale of the caverns.
We chose to walk down into the cavern through the natural entrance, rather than taking the elevators. While there isn't that much to see in the way of major formations in the first part, I believe that it is difficult to understand the magnitude of the caverns when one enters by the elevators. If you can do the walking, that is the way to go.
We got there around 2 pm and walked through the entire big room, so it was easy to stick around for the bat flight. The ranger talk prior to the bat flight was fun, but the bats were disappointing. They came out just a few at a time, maybe a couple of hundred by the time it was too dark to see. Waiting for them reminded me of waiting, seemingly forever, for Old Faithful to blow last summer.
Pay careful attention to the last photo of this group. Remember the gorgeous weather we had that warranted driving with the top down? It was gorgeous when we went into the cave, but the storm you see in the distance had passed over while we were 750 feet underground, and the interior of our car got drenched. We got to ride home through thunderstorms, sitting on soggy seats....... Fortunately, this is El Paso, and things dry quickly, even drenched foam car seats. They were completely dry by noon the next day. This put a bit of a damper (sorry, I couldn't resist) on the trip, but nothing could ruin the amazing experience of Carlsbad Caverns.