Categories: Outdoors

Spelunking Caves in the Pacific Northwest

photos by Ben Herndon


In Oregon, mountains rise into jagged peaks, lakes fill basins, rivers flow through valleys and canyons cut into cragged deserts to create a diverse topography. Photographer Ben Herndon, however, went deeper, maneuvering the nooks and crannies tucked into—and below—the terrain, hidden from view. Headlamps on and standup paddleboards in tow, Herndon found logistically challenging photographic wonders, signs of vandalism, sun beams cutting through humid chambers, deep blue waters and one angry spider in Oregon’s caves.

This cave is privately owned and getting permission is recommended. The cave's proximity to a reservoir means water levels inside the cave fluctuate throughout the year.
A group of three people stand up paddle across tropical blue waters through the 3,000 foot long Malheur Cave, a lava tube in south eastern Oregon.
James Engerbretson exploring inside the Boca Cave on Triangulation Point in central Oregon. The floor of the large, single chamber cave is covered in a beautiful red soil and is complimented by a leafy green bed outside the entrance.more
James Engerbretson admiring the picturesque framing of nearby Mount Jefferson from inside the Boca Cave on Triangulation Peak in central Oregon. The floor of the large, single chamber cave is covered in a beautiful red soil and is complimented by a leafy green bed outside the entrance.more
James Engerbretson descends the ladder into the Skylight Cave in Central Oregon. The cave features a number of natural "skylights" that on clear days produce beautiful shafts of light.

Note for the adventurous types: when exploring caves, always bring extra lights, batteries and layers. Avoid caving alone.

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