Vendor Info

Pre-Convention Field Camp (High Guadalupe Mountains)

June 13-16, 2017

     We will be offering a pre- convention camp in the High Guadalupe Mountains. To sign up for the camp, please contact Janice Tucker.

     The High Guads are famous for their rugged beauty, harsh climate and amazing caves. We will be visiting the following caves in the Lincoln National Forest: Three Fingers, Hell Below, Pink Panther, Virgin, Black, Hidden, Andy’s, Cave Tree, possibly Cottonwood and Red Lake. Deep, a cave in Carlsbad Caverns NP, will also, hopefully, be on our list of caves to visit.

     The majority of the caves are vertical, requiring each participant to be competent in vertical caving, including doing re belays in Hell Below and Three Fingers. All, but Red Lake are highly decorated. Red Lake’s claim to fame is its salamanders.

     We will be camping in the Guadalupe Mountains in a primitive dry camp. Presently we hope to rent the Fire Tower in the Guadalupes which will allow us to have shelter, a pit toilet and electricity. Cost of camping will be $5.00 per night. A high clearance vehicle (a 2-wheel drive pickup, SUV, or a Subaru-type vehicle) are required to get to camp. A rugged 4-wheel drive vehicle (Jeep, 4-wheel-drive pickup, or off-road SUV) will be needed to drive to the caves from camp.

     The Guadalupes are a beautiful rugged desert mountain range. We will be camping on a ridge at approximately 7000’ elevation. So, the days can be very hot and the nights very cold and often windy. Come prepared for both. Often the hike to the cave is as challenging as the caving itself. Boots with ankle support and long sleeves/pants are recommended for skin protection from the plants and the sun. Drinking plenty of water is a necessity.

     Presently, New Mexico appears to be WNS free. As we will be visiting caves in the Lincoln NF and perhaps Carlsbad Caverns NP, we will be following the Forest Service and NPS permit guidelines. Presently, no gear, clothing or boots used in a WNS positive state or country may be used at all during this camp. All gear used must be new, or be gear from a non WNS positive state or country that has been decontaminated prior to use during our camp. Please see the Convention Registration form for current decontamination guidelines. Fortunately our camp will be in one geographic region, allowing us to avoid needing to perform any decontamination between caves during camp. The Fort Stanton Cave Study Project will be lending their Decontamination unit to the Convention. So you will be able to bag your gear, take it to convention and have it decontaminated there. Make sure to bring clean clothes if you want to visit Carlsbad Caverns on your way to Rio Rancho for convention. Carlsbad is one of the least expensive cave tours in the US and is also one of the most amazing caves.

Pre-Convention Trip (Copper Canyon Railroad)

June 11-17, 2017

     Mexico’s Chihuahua al Pacific railroad through the Copper Canyon region is one of the world’s top-rated railroad trips and is the last remaining passenger train in Mexico. In 1986, over 60 cavers enjoyed this trip prior to the Tularosa, NM, NSS Convention.

     In 2017, cavers can again experience this exciting trip with one night in Ciudad Cuauhtemoc, two nights in Cerocahui, followed by the most dramatic and impressive section of the train ride from Bahuichivo Station to El Fuerte, Sinaloa. After a night in El Fuerte, return on the train to the gateway town of Creel for two nights and a full day of optional activities.

     Transportation from El Paso, Texas, to and from the Copper Canyon region is by chartered bus. Highlights of the trip include the Divisadero Adventure Park, featuring the longest zipline in the world plus a tramway into the Canyon. The Cerocahui stay includes Cave of the Crosses, a cookout on the rim of the Canyon and an optional descent to the Canyon bottom.

     The trip is confirmed as we have met our minimum. There is a maximum of 40 people (Correction: we have 20 rooms reserved, not a maximum of 20 people). Should the trip fill, any profit will be shared between education for Tarahumara people, natives to the region and to a cave conservation project or other cave-related fund to be determined.

     Leading the trip is Doug Rhodes, NSS 6746. Doug organized the 1986 trip and has lived in the Copper Canyon region since 1990. Both bilingual and bicultural, he has dual citizenship and is adept at providing unforgettable experiences. Contact Doug Rhodes with questions or for a full, day-by-day schedule.

     The cost is $845 per person, double occupancy; $750 per person, triple occupancy and $730 per person in a quadruple room. Rooms have two double beds. Single supplement is $230. A $250 per person, non-refundable deposit is required to reserve space; full payment is required by 20 April 2017. Deposits and final payments may be made by check to Doug Rhodes, P.O. Box 31089, El Paso, TX 79931 or through Paypal to doug@mexicohorse.com.

Pre and/or Post-Convention Trips (Soil Piping Caves)

June 17, 2017 and/or June 24, 2017

     Some of the largest soil-piping caves in the U.S. are found in a canyon about 2.5 hours north of the Convention site. Over 160 caves have been found in this canyon and, although most are only 200 to 300 feet long, others are over 1,000 feet long and more than 200 feet deep. The passages in these caves tend to be high and narrow with lots of chimneying and climbing involved. There will be guided trips to this canyon the Saturday before Convention, the Saturday following or both, depending on interest. Please contact: Doug Medville.

Post-Convention Field Camp (Resource Inventory in Caves, Guadalupe Mountains, NM)

June 24, 2017 and/or June 29, 2017

     This field camp is approximately a four- to five-hours drive southeast of the convention site. When: Get-together and social Saturday evening, June 24, at the Hacienda Hostel, Carlsbad, NM. Cave trips will be Sunday morning through Wednesday afternoon (June 25-28). Breakfast debriefing on Thursday morning, June 29.

     As speleology becomes more common, and more caves are discovered and pushed to new lengths, it becomes more important for cave management specialists and others to know what is found where in any particular cave. Following on the presentations given on inventory schemes at the convention, this post-conference trip will apply various schemes in caves in the field and then compare and contrast the results in the afternoons and early evenings back in town. Late evenings will be supper and conversations in the comfort of our Carlsbad homebase, the Hacienda Hostel.

     We will be visiting three caves: Carlsbad Caverns, Chimney Cave and Sand Cave (perhaps one other – barring unforeseen complications (government shutdown, range fires). Chimney Cave is vertical; Sand Cave requires a handline. Ropes and handline will be supplied. Participants are expected to bring their own caving and vertical gear, spare clothes, etc., in accordance to WNS and other guidelines provided by the convention organizers.

     Facilities: meetings, breakfasts (Sunday through Thursday) and dinners (Sunday through Tuesday) will be at the hostel and B&B, conveniently located in downtown Carlsbad. Lunches will be provided. Participants may camp in the backyard for FREE, or stay inside (shared hostel accommodations: $25/night (bunk beds w/kitchen and ¾ bath), or in several private rooms – $50/night = small room, one twin bed, attached bath; $75/night = two twin beds, attached bath); campers ($5/night/person). NOTE: We will need two people with high clearance vehicles (they will receive a discount off of registration fee). Cavers who need vertical or other gear (including cave packs) that has never been used in a WNS state should contact Michael Queen to arrange loaner gear. The hostel has a washing machine and drier for cleaning clothes between cave trips.

     Fee: $75 includes breakfast and dinner at the hostel (Sunday – Thursday mornings (excluding dinner Wednesday, which will be at Lucy’s), and transportation to and from the caves. See above for cave lunches. One or two drivers with high clearance vehicles willing to carry passengers are discounted and pay only $45. Loaner equipment returned in good shape will not be charged for. Minimum trip: 3 people/1 with vehicle; Maximum: 7 people w/2 cars (to include leader or 10 people w/2 leaders. Before 2 week’s notice of cancellation, a refund will be considered.

     Contact: Michael Queen. Mail confirmation of intent to: Michael Queen, 814 North Canal St., Carlsbad, NM 88220.

Post-Convention Field Camp (Guadalupe Foothills and Gypsum Plains Karst Management)



     This field trip will be comprised of three days of cave exploration in the lower elevations of the Guadalupe Mountains and the gypsum karst fields of the basin below. Participants will visit three distinct cave areas: Chosa Draw cave area, the Fence Canyon cave area, and McKittrick Hill cave area. Each area is comprised of uniquely different caves.

     Trips in the Chosa Draw area will visit several wet gypsum caves including the second longest gypsum cave in the Western Hemisphere, as well as other hydrologically important caves and karst features within the area. All of these caves will involve getting extremely wet. Some passages have only a few inches of airspace and participants should be able to swim.

     In the Fence Canyon area, trips will visit multi-level, challenging, limestone caves. These caves are known to be particularly challenging in part due to warm temperatures and tight squeezes. Participants should be able to squeeze through 12-inch crawlways comfortably.

     For the McKittrick Hill area, trips will visit large limestone maze caves with a rich history. These caves also include warm temperatures and extended periods of hands and knees crawling with a few squeezes thrown in for good measure.

     All of these trips and evening campfire talks will focus on the challenges and tools associated with cave management and multi-use public lands. Participants will camp with the group at the Parks Ranch Cave camping area south of White City, New Mexico. Hotels are also available at White City or Carlsbad, NM, approximately 30 minutes from the field camp location. Evening opportunities to view the bat flight at Carlsbad Caverns will also be available. There is no registration fee for this camp. Lodging and food is not provided, but participants may coordinate with each other for group meals.

     All caving gear will need to be decontaminated according to current USFWS WNS decon procedures. No gear used in a confirmed WNS state may be used in any of the caves visited. Vertical gear is not needed for any caves involved and loaner cave gear may be available if you are coming from a WNS state.

     The camp is limited to 15 participants. Please ensure that you can meet the physical demands as outlined above and be comfortable with staying in and traversing through the New Mexico desert in the heat of summer. The deadline for reserving your space/s is June 1, 2017. For more information contact: Aaron Stockton.