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Shawn Thomas found an unexpected treat at the Carlsbad Caverns National Park on Halloween night. It's a treat the cave technician and other park staff will enjoy more than chocolate candy bars for years to come. Thomas, along with another caver, discovered a new cave room inside the Caverns hundreds of feet up from the main area. Dubbed "Halloween Hall," the fresh find marks the biggest discovery for the Caverns in more than 25 years.
Valerie Gohlke, spokeswoman for the Caverns, said the discovery is a part of an ongoing geological study to re-survey and re-map the area. The discovery also offers a renewed interest in possible explorations, she added. "I think it's really exciting," she said. "It shows that there is potentially more out there to be discovered. It should spark everybody's interests." Thomas said staff members started re-surveying a couple of years ago. While he says the process could be completed within two years, he hopes future explorers keep finding new discoveries. "We decided to go back and do a more thorough look to make more detailed maps and look at all the little corners around the area," he said. "We want to make sure we are not missing anything."
The new area may generate a lot of excitement, but Cavern fanatics would not be able to enjoy it. Thomas said the climb to the area is too difficult for the average climber. "It's an extremely difficult area to climb," he said. "You need a lot of climbing experience to get up there. It is the type of thing we wouldn't want to develop for guests." Although the new area will not be available for the public, staff members say it's a great opportunity to showcase the Caverns' deep environmental riches. "We have something new to tell our guests," Arrowsmith said. "(Caves are) a never-ending thing," she added. "Basically, the last frontier to discover." Thomas said the room could lead to other undiscovered areas. Both Thomas and Bristol plan to take another look in February, Thomas said.