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Backpacking NorCal/Oregon Part 3 | Crater Lake + Natural Bridges

So I was trying to decide whether or not I wanted to split this into a Part 3 and 4 or keep it together as one. And I decided to keep Crater Lake and Samuel H Boardman as one blog post. I think it’ll help with the flow of things and I’ll try not to make it too long. It’s tough because the first half was somewhat uneventful but then the day becomes very exciting!

From left to right (Charlie, Wyatt, Ian, Tristan)
Overlook on the way to Crater Lake. From left to right (Charlie, Wyatt, Ian, Tristan)

Here we are, Klamath Falls, Oregon. A small town with not a whole lot going on but it appears to be in the process of going through a big growth phase. I say that because a lot of the chain stores and restaurants looked brand new - so obviously the town is doing well enough to acquire some of the chains.

We didn’t hike anywhere here, mostly just a pitstop in our journey, and honestly we really needed it with whatever bug bit me and then Tristans hurt knee. We found a sweet KOA and set up our tents there, drank some whiskey, sat by the fire, made s'mores and chilled out for the evening. Also, I asked the kid working the KOA about some of those restaurants and he confirmed they were about 6 months old.

So yeah. I’m pretty observant. (ha)

The next morning we stopped at a MedExpress for myself and Tristan which took FOREVER. I felt bad for taking up so much valuable time but it needed to be done. I just needed some real medication to alleviate these nasty hives for the remainder of the trip and that’s what they did for me (thank God)

Yeah....all over my body. It was not fun.

So back to what you came for. After a night of drinks, and a trip to MedExpress we made our way to Crater Lake! A tad over an hour drive there but a pretty one for sure, and very easy. We stopped on our way there to take pictures at an overlook and stretch our legs a bit, it was pretty as you can see below. We ran into an older couple traveling by RV that also stopped to take pictures there and we talked to them for a bit. They were retired and traveling the country together and we all thought that was pretty cool.

Nice view of the mountains at the overlook

Back on the road, we arrive at Crater Lake and it’s pure, crystal blue waters! It is pretty amazing to look at. We got lucky and had a beautiful sunny day with hardly a cloud in the sky.

Crater Lake

The history behind the lake is pretty wild too, it wasn’t formed by a meteor or anything, but actually a volcano eruption (Mount Mazama) and the eruption caused the Volcano to collapse on itself. It continued to have smaller eruptions and formed a little peak in the middle of the lake which they call Wizard Island. The lake doesn’t have any water that flows into it, but miraculously has a near perfect balance of evaporation and precipitation to maintain its water level.

Unfortunately we didn’t get to hike or do anything at Crater Lake because everything was closed due to snowpack. We made sure to get our times worth there but it would’ve been nice to hike some of the trails around the lake itself.

Wizard Island

That was about it for Crater Lake, extremely beautiful and worth the trip; I’ll go back again one day later in the summer where I can actually hike the area.

A little over 4 hours later, we made it to our destination in a campground somewhere between Brookings and Samuel H. Boardmen. We were running out of daylight and also pushing our luck finding an open space to camp out. Remember in the first blog post when I said we had to change plans and do everything on the fly? Yeah. Still true here. Once again we got lucky and found a sweet spot to set up our tents. Nothing special, but a cheap spot.

We threw our tents together, grabbed our cameras and headed to the Natural Bridges overlook.

Natural Bridges


This was awesome, such an amazing view at sunset, we even saw a couple getting their wedding photos taken down below! I slapped on my 210mm lens and hoped to “steal” some shots, but they’re nothing like what their photographer was getting down there.

If you ever go here, when you pull off in the little parking area on the side of the highway, the trail to get down to the natural bridges is to the right. We went left first but realized we couldn’t get down so it was a mad dash to the other side so we didn’t miss sunset.

It’s not a long trail by any means, less than a mile, but man is it steep. VERY STEEP. On the way down there are a couple spots you can crouch down and take some nice photos of the Natural Bridges and other rock formations behind it. It provides a pretty cool vantage point (pictures below) and myself, Ian and Tristan took turns sitting up there and taking photos of one another down below. So a lot hiking up and down that steep incline, totally worth it though.

One of the things I learned from this trip is patience and pushing through. A lot of times I’m just not patient enough to wait and take the shot; or I don’t want to spend the extra 20 minutes to get a different shot because “I don’t need it” I need it. You need it. There’s nothing worse than coming back from a trip and looking at your photos or just looking back in your thoughts and saying: “Damn, I wish I would’ve taken the extra effort to get this shot also.” So I’m glad I took the time to traverse the incline up and down to get all these different shots.


Patience is a virtue. And something I admittedly don’t have haha.

Action shot of Ian Herbst getting some good photos

I wanna go down there!

There was another guy there taking some photos and video, and I think he was driving a Subaru? So Ian and I started talking to him and he was a really cool dude.

He takes some amazing photos too so if you’re interested his Instagram is @thecrazyadventurist. You won’t regret checking him out.

Check out @tristanschuler as well. He’s in Tucson right now and has been getting some pretty incredible shots. Actually, he’s in Iceland, but he lives in Tucson to be more exact. Either way he has some dope photos on there.

@ianpherbst for Ian’s Instagram. He’s been doing a lot on there recently as well and you can check out his photos from our trip also. Excellent photographer. Can’t say enough good things about him.

Wyatt and Charlie really don’t do the whole photography thing; they just kinda put up with us for wanting to stop every 20 yards to take a picture.

I spy with my little eye, Charlie done with our shit and sitting alone

Anyways. We wrapped up and we’re starving. Someone mentioned pizza before the hike and we were sold on that ever since. We drove into Brookings OR and placed a pickup order at Wild River Pizza. I gotta tell ya, I know we were hungry but man this was some great pizza. We destroyed it. It’s also a brewery so we picked up a couple 6 packs of beer. I bought a 6 pack of their Honey Wheat, an American Pale Wheat beer. Refreshing to wind down after a long day. I think the other 6 pack was an IPA? Not sure. I’m not a huge fan of IPAs. Actually we might have done a mix and match because I remember a Red Ale being in there somewhere too. Who know’s. The point is, if you’re ever going through Brookings; Wild River has great pizza and great beer.

That’s about it, we once again hung out around the campfire and went to sleep feeling good. Ian and I have plans to get up before sunrise and go back to Natural Bridges to get sunrise shots and I also wanted to check out Gold Beach, but we’ll save that for the next post.

Thanks for reading!


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