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Photography Blinds

Bald eagles at #5Bald Eagles perched on a snag at photo blind #5 on Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge

General Information  

Wildlife photography opportunities at the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges are excellent. Six photography blinds have been made available, four on Tule Lake Refuge and two on Lower Klamath Refuge. Use of these blinds is by reservation only. An annual recreation pass is required for anyone using refuge photo blinds. Only one blind may be reserved per day, and a given blind may be reserved for up to two days per week. Blind reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis and accepted only within six months of the first date the blind will be used.

Three blinds (Blinds # 2 and # 5 on Tule Lake Refuge and Blind # 7 on Lower Klamath Refuge) are located to facilitate bald eagle and raptor photography. During December through March these blinds must be entered before 7a.m. Blinds # 1 and # 3 on Tule Lake and Blind # 6 on Lower Klamath provide opportunities to photograph water birds. Warm clothing, a telephoto lens and tripod enhance opportunities at the blinds. Although unusual, winter temperatures occasionally fall to 0 degrees F. All blinds are situated for best lighting for photography in the morning.

Printable version of photography blind brochure 

Making a Reservation 

Blind reservations may be made in person, by telephone, or mail at the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, located 5 miles west of Tulelake, CA, on Hill Rd. Telephone: (530) 667-2231. Visitor Center hours are 8 am - 4:30 pm, weekdays and 9 am - 4 pm weekends and holidays. The Refuge Visitor Center is closed Christmas and New Year's days. Reservations by mail or telephone should be made at least 10 days prior to intended use to allow for mail delivery of materials.

Reservation confirmations are mailed when payment has been received. An annual refuge pass is available for $25 and is valid for one year from date of purchase. ($12.50 per person for those with a Senior Interagency Pass, an Interagency Access Pass or for full time students 21 years and under) For those requesting a permit by phone, credit cards are accepted. Please make checks payable to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The reservation includes a slip to display on the vehicle dashboard. There is no need to return reservation materials after use.

Reducing Wildlife Disturbance 

Please conduct activities so as to keep wildlife disturbance to a minimum. For example, make a genuine effort to exit the blind/area when no wildlife is in the vicinity. Such actions will not only benefit wildlife but will help ensure continued, high quality photographic opportunities. Photographers are encouraged to enter blinds prior to sunrise which reduces disturbance and helps achieve the best photographic results. 

Blind Descriptions and Locations  

Blind locations on roads and access trails are marked with a white fiberglass post which includes the blind number, a directional arrow, and two red reflectors.

 

1 Hill Road Marsh Blind 

This is a two-person blind with 4 lens ports located on the west shoreline of Tule Lake. From the refuge visitor center travel 2.7 miles south on Hill Road to the boat ramp parking area on the left. Park at the ramp. The blind is a short walk (700 feet) out the dike on the north side of the boat channel. A minimum 200mm lens is suggested. The blind faces the water in a north/northwest direction. Best Times: spring, summer and fall. During waterfowl hunting season (October through January) the boat ramp area is extensively used by hunters and few birds may be present. NOTE: This blind is wheelchair accessible.

2 Tule Lake Sump 1-B Raptor Blind 

This one-person blind is set up to photograph hawks and eagles. It is located along the south shore of Sump 1-B off the auto tour route. From the refuge visitor center travel 4.8 miles south on Hill Road, then turn left onto the auto tour route for 4.8 miles. At the tour route junction turn right for 1.1 mile and then left for 1.5 miles along the south shore of Sump 1-B to the road signed for Authorized Vehicles Only. Turn left onto this road and travel 0.2 miles. Park here leaving room for other vehicles to pass. The blind is located approximately 200 yards to the north across the grassland near a tree (eagle perch). A minimum 300mm lens is suggested. The blind faces north. Best Times: Mid-December to mid-March. REMINDER: This blind must be entered before 7am from January through February.

 

3 Tule Lake Sump 1-B Waterbird Blind  

This blind accommodates up to two people. It is located on the south shore of Sump 1-B along the auto tour route. From the refuge visitor center, travel 4.8 miles south on Hill Road, then turn left onto the auto tour route for 4.8 miles. At the tour route junction turn right for 1.1 mile and then left for 2.4 miles along the south shore of Sump 1-B. You will see a boardwalk leading to the blind across the grasslands. Park here leaving room for other vehicles to pass. A minimum 300mm telephoto lens is suggested. The blind faces the water (north) with several openings to photograph waterbirds. An opening also faces the willow tree. Best Times: spring and fall. NOTE: This blind is wheelchair accessible.

 

5 Tule Lake Eagle Blind 

This one-person blind is located on the south shore of Sump 1-B along the auto tour route. From the refuge visitor center, travel 4.8 miles south on Hill Road, then turn left onto the auto tour route for 4.8 miles. At the tour route junction turn right for 1.1 mile and then left for 2.4 miles along the south shore of Sump 1-B. Park at the white post marking blind #5 leaving room for other vehicles to pass. A minimum 300mm telephoto lens is suggested. The lens opening in the blind faces a willow tree where raptors frequently perch during the winter months. Best Times: mid-December through mid-March. REMINDER: This blind must be entered before 7am. {top of page}

 

6 Lower Klamath Marsh and Waterbird Blind 

This one-person fiberglass cylinder blind located along the water's edge near the northwest corner of Lower Klamath Refuge auto tour route. From the refuge visitor center travel 3.9 miles north on Hill Road to the intersection with State Line Road (Highway 161). Turn left onto Stateline Road and continue 11.2 miles. Park just off the highway on the left at the chain link fence. Your permit allows you to enter a marked gate in the fence and hike the 500 yards along the dike to the blind. The blind is located near the first lone tree you encounter and is positioned for photographing waterfowl and other waterbirds in the channel in front of the blind. The blind faces west and a minimum 300 mm telephoto lens is suggested with subject distances varying from about 20 to 125 feet. Best Times: spring and summer (waterfowl, grebes, pelicans, herons, egrets)

 

7 Lower Klamath Eagle Snag Blind  

This one-person blind is situated for morning photography of eagles and raptors. The blind shares the same driving directions and parking area as Blind #6 described above. The blind is located 100 yards beyond blind #6. Hike approximately 600 yards along the dike to the fiberglass blind on the dike top located near a dead tree where eagles and raptors perch in the late fall and winter. The blind is approximately 75 feet from the perching location. A minimum 300 mm telephoto lens is recommended. Best Times: mid- December through mid-March. REMINDER: This blind must be entered before 7 am.

Last Updated: Mar 20, 2013
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