obama carlsbad

Obama looking for signs of Harriet Tubman on the cavern walls.

CARLSBAD CAVERNS NATIONAL PARK, N.M. (Associated Press) — Eyes wide open and head tilted upward, President Barack Obama appeared awed Friday as he toured an underground cave at a national park in New Mexico — part of a family vacation that’s also designed to draw attention to America’s natural wonders.

Obama, his wife, Michelle, and their daughters, Malia and Sasha, spent part of the afternoon at Carlsbad Caverns National Park, one of two national parks the First Family is scheduled to visit on a long Father’s Day weekend away from Washington.

“How cool is this?” Obama exclaimed as a National Park Service employee led the family on a tour of the Big Room, an area nearly 800 feet deep into the limestone cavern that nature carved out of the Guadalupe Mountains.

The Obamas plan to spend Saturday and part of Sunday exploring Yosemite National Park in California.[…]

Inside the New Mexico cavern, where three of the 119 caves are open to the public, Obama gazed at the stalactites, stalagmites and various other formations dotting the Big Room and said it was “spectacular.” The caves were formed when sulfuric acid ate through the limestone.

Temperatures inside the Big Room hold at a cool 56 degrees, in sharp contrast to the 100-degree heat baking the arid landscape that surrounds the national park, and Obama wore a jacket to ward off the slight chill.

The administration makes an economic argument for supporting the park system: It sustains hundreds of thousands of jobs while visitors pump billions of dollars into surrounding economies.

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