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5 days
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Tour Highlights

  • Swim in some of the cleanest, most pristine waters in the United States in Oregon's stunning Cascade Lakes

  • Take in the awe-inspiring landscapes from a completely different perspective as you swim beneath the peaks of the Cascade Range

  • Complete a series of truly unique swims as we explore the protected Deschutes National Park with our National Forest Serviced-approved permissions

  • Enjoy trekking to some of Oregon's most remote wilderness areas as we walk through the surrounding forests to our isolated swim locations

  • Relax at the end of each day in our secluded lodge accommodation in rustic log cabins which sit just a few metres from the banks of the beautiful Elk Lake

Swim in some of the most pristine waters in the United States on this breathtaking swimming vacation in Oregon’s Cascade Lakes. Situated within the Three Sisters Wilderness area - renowned for its high desert climate and stunning natural scenery – we'll swim many of the lakes which lie beneath the peaks of the picturesque Cascade Range.

The lake slopes are covered with many tree varieties, including mixed fir, pine, hemlock, vine maple and cedar, while the desert plants include beautiful juniper and sagebrush. A huge range of wildlife can also be found in this region with black bears, cougars, coyotes, elks and raccoons all calling this wild part of the country home.

Our accommodation for the duration of the trip is at the gorgeous Elk Lake Resort. The resort has been welcoming guests since 1922 to enjoy the outdoor wilderness around Elk Lake and Mount Bachelor. The main lodge and surrounding cabins are built from logs and are scattered in amongst the trees just metres from the water’s edge. As you step out of the forest, scenic views of the high peaks open up around you. The resort’s lodge contains a restaurant which serves sustainable, locally-sourced food, while other activities available on the lake include paddle boarding, boating and fishing.

Who is this trip for?

This trip offers a combination of stunning lake crossings and forest treks at altitudes of up to 1,500m. The wild setting is well suited those who enjoy both lake swimming and forest trekking and are happy with a more remote nature to their trip as there is limited phone signal in this area. Swimmers should have a basic understanding of open water swimming and be capable of completing the average daily swim distance of around 5km (split over a minimum of two swims) prior to the start of the trip.

We have given this trip a ‘Moderate’ grading. Most swimmers comfortable in the open water will be able to take part and enjoy one of these trips.

What's included?

  • Fully guided swimming holiday in Oregon, USA
  • Swim guides and full safety escort on all swims
  • Technique advice with video playback
  • Five nights accommodation
  • All breakfasts
  • All lunches
  • All dinners
  • All National Park Fees and Permissions Charges

What's not included?

  • Travel to and from the start of the tour

Related Trips

Daily Itineraries

Please note that the below daily itineraries are an example of the swims that may take place during the course of your trip, however, actual swim locations and distances will vary according to local weather conditions. Your SwimTrek guides and local boat pilot will determine the most suitable swim locations each day and will communicate the plan with all guests as soon as possible.

Trip Schedule

Start Point: Elk Lake Resort, Oregon

Start Time: 14:00 on Day 1

Finish Point: Elk Lake Resort, Oregon

Finish Time: 13:00 on Day 5

Day 1

After your arrival at the resort on the banks of Elk Lake, you will have time to check into your accommodation before meeting for a welcome meeting and safety briefing. Your guides will set out the details of the trip plans and we will then set off for a brief acclimatisation swim in the lake directly in front of the resort.

Day 2

The first full day of our trip involves heading off to swim the calm waters of the Twin Lakes. North and South Twin Lake are two nearly identical natural lakes with pretty beaches and the warmest water that we’ll swim in during our trip. They were formed around 20,000 years ago when a rising magma reservoir reached groundwater, creating violent steam explosions. South Twin Lake is lined with trees throughout its entire circumference. After taking time to rest following our first swim we enjoy a hike between them, which can be 2½ -5km (depending on the route selected).

Day 3

This morning we travel down to the southern section of the Three Sisters Wilderness to Odell and Crescent Lakes, where we’ll swim the width of each of them. The water in these lakes are some of the purest in the entire Cascade region and the majestic Volcanic Peak, which is part of the Cascade Volcanic Arc, dominates the skyline on both swims. Following our swim of Crescent Lake, we’ll enjoy lunch and a spot of relaxing on the beach, before heading over to Odell Lake for our afternoon swim.

Day 4

Today we journey through a volcanic landscape with excellent views of Broken Top, Mt Bachelor and South Sister Peaks towards our first swim spot of the day. Once we arrive at Lava Lake, we’ll swim the full length of the lake where Williamson Mountain will be ever present throughout the duration of our swim. Following a relaxed lunch, we journey to the eastern end of Cultus Lake, a glacial water body, where we’ll carry out a there-and-back swim. We then travel back to the Elk Lake Resort for a well-deserved rest and refreshment prior to dinner.

Day 5

On the final day of our trip, we’ll enjoy a circumnavigation of Elk Lake itself, starting and ending at the Elk Lake resort, via the southern end of the lake at Little Fawn. With a picturesque setting featuring the Three Sisters towering over the north end of the lake and Mt. Bachelor dominating the eastern horizon, this swim is the perfect way to bring our trip to a close. Following our swim, we have lunch together before our tour of the Cascade Lakes comes to an end.

Location Summary

Cascade Lakes

The Cascade Lakes lie along the Eastern side of the Cascade Range of Mountains in Central Oregon. They are a real wildlife experience and are ideal swimming lakes. Majestic peaks adorn the high desert skyline, making for some of the best weather in Oregon with sun-drenched days.

Three Sisters Wilderness

The Deschutes National Forest comprises 7,300 km2 (1.8 million acres) of forest and contains five wilderness areas, including the Three Sisters Wilderness. Designated for the preservation of its natural beauty, the Three Sisters Wilderness was named after the Three Sisters volcanoes, known by pioneers as Faith, Hope and Charity.


A warm, inviting mountain getaway, Bend is Central Oregon’s mecca for outdoor enthusiasts and offers something for everyone. Whether it’s the high number of Microbreweries in the town through to various sport outfitters, it’s well worth spending a few days in this beautiful part of the world.

Trip Grading

Swimming Distances

Swim Distance
Twin Lakes 1½km, 2km
Odell Lake 3km
Cultus Lake 3½km
Crescent Lake 3½km
Lava Lake 2km
Elk Lake Circumnavigation 5km

Swimming Conditions

These lakes have some of Western America’s cleanest fresh water, however, as with any lakes around the world, water quality can vary. If you do feel unwell at any stage after the trip, you should go to your GP immediately and let them know what you have been doing.

Walking Distances

As well as swimming, the beautiful Cascades are an ideal location for walking and trekking. We have an optional hike into Day 2 of our itinerary, from North Twin Lake to South Twin Lake, which is 2½-5km (depending on route). Throughout the course of your trip, there may be further hiking opportunities. There are often walks involved in reaching lakes which are inaccessible by other modes of transport. Most walks take place on designated paths and tracks. Please note that comfortable shoes or sturdy sandals are recommended for all walks and treks.


Month Water Temperature* Air Temperature*
September 17-19˚C / 63-66˚F 21-23˚C / 70-73˚F

*Please note that these temperatures are indicative and should be used as a guide only.

Weather Caveat

For safety reasons, we rely on decent weather conditions when carrying out our swims. As a consequence, open water swimming holidays require a certain degree of on-trip flexibility which can result in changes to the planned itinerary. These changes often add a touch of uniqueness to your trip and will be communicated to you by your SwimTrek guides as quickly as possible.

Trip Information

Group Size

This trip has a maximum group size of 14. The group will be split into a maximum of two groups, based on speed, with each group being accompanied by their own safety vessel/escort.

Boat Support

Boat support on this trip generally includes a pontoon boat and kayaks to be piloted by your SwimTrek guides. Please note that this boat support is subject to change without notice and cannot be guaranteed.

Extra Activities

At Elk Lake Resort, there will also be the opportunity to participate in a number of extra activities before or after our organised daily swims for an extra charge to be paid locally. Paddleboards, kayaks, canoes and fat tire bikes are all available to hire at Elk Lake Resort and are a perfect way to explore the lakes and its surroundings alongside our swims. For more information on rentals, please visit

Equipment Checklist

In addition to your daily non-swimming clothes, we also recommend that you bring the following items:

Item Item
Swimming Costume (x2) Sweater/Fleece and Trousers
Swimming Goggles* (x2) Waterproof Jacket
Sunhat and Sunglasses Walking Shoes/Sandals
Waterproof Sun Cream Aqua Shoes/Sandals
Small Daypack Insect Repellent

*Try to bring one clear lens and one tinted lens for different light conditions.

Please note that SwimTrek will supply swim hats and provide water and electrolyte drinks in shared water bottles on your safety boat. If you prefer to use your own drink bottle, please feel free to bring one along. For this trip, we recommend that you bring a wetsuit with you. If you would also like to use a rash vest or fins during your swims, please ensure that you bring these with you.

Getting There

The easiest way to get to the start of your trip is to fly into Redmond Municipal Airport and then catch a taxi to your accommodation at Elk Lake Resort. If travelling by car, you will need to make your way to Bend by road or Amtrak. From Bend, it takes approximately 30 minutes by road to reach Elk Lake Resort.

Whilst we have outlined travel options below, they are subject to change and should be used as a guide only. We suggest that you use Skyscanner to search for flight options for this trip. Whichever route you choose to take, we recommend confirming your flights and other travel arrangements as early as possible in order to avoid price rises and availability issues.

Flights to Redmond Municipal Airport

To search for available flights into Redmond Municipal Airport, please visit Skyscanner. For further information about flying into Redmond Municipal Airport from within the United States, please visit Redmond Municipal Airport.

Getting from Redmond Municipal Airport to Elk Lake Resort

The easiest way to get from the airport to your accommodation is to catch a taxi from outside the airport terminal. The journey time to the resort is approximately 60 minutes and costs around $110 for up to four passengers. Larger vehicles may be available upon request.

It is also possible to catch a shared airport shuttle from Redmond Municipal Airport to downtown Bend, which takes around 25 minutes, and then catch a taxi to Elk Lake Resort, which takes another 30 minutes and costs approximately $50 for up to four passengers. For further information about the airport shuttle and taxi services, please visit Redmond Municipal Airport.

Please note that there are no public transport options from Bend to Elk Lake Resort.


For the duration of our trip, we stay at the beautifully secluded Elk Lake Resort. Offering lodging in a series of rustic cabins just a few metres from the shores of Elk Lake, this accommodation is the perfect place to relax and unwind at the end of each swimming day.

Our accommodation is based on twin-share rooms in shared cabins, with a limited number of single supplement rooms which can be reserved during the booking process, subject to availability. All cabins include private bedrooms with shared living areas, kitchens and bathrooms for up to six guests.

Cabins which may be displayed during the booking process, subject to availability include:

Cabin 21 - 1940’s Vintage Cabin (Up to Four Guests)

  • 2 x double bedrooms (i.e. with one double bed), located downstairs
  • 1 x shared bathroom, located downstairs
  • 1 x small communal living area
  • 1 x small communal kitchen

Cabin 23 - Home Cabin (Up to Six Guests)

  • 1 x king bedroom (i.e. with one king-size bed) with built-in wardrobe, located downstairs
  • 1 x double bedroom (i.e. with one double bed), located upstairs
  • 1 x twin bedroom (i.e. with two single beds), located upstairs
  • 1 x shared bathroom located downstairs
  • 1 x large communal living area with a large deck and BBQ area offering lake views
  • 1 x large communal kitchen

Cabin 26 - Deluxe Home Cabin (Up to Six Guests)

  • 1 x deluxe king bedroom (i.e. with one king-size bed and two single beds) with built-in wardrobe and large private balcony with lake views, located upstairs
  • 1 x double bedroom (i.e. with one double bed), located upstairs
  • 1 x twin bedroom (i.e. with two single beds,) located upstairs
  • 1 x shared bathroom, located downstairs
  • 1 x shared bathroom, located upstairs
  • 1 x large communal living area with a large deck and BBQ area offering lake views
  • 1 x large communal kitchen

For further information about the Elk Lake Resort, including virtual tours or all available cabins, or to book additional nights’ accommodation before or after your trip, please visit: Elk Lake Resort. Due to the size and popularity of the resort, rooms are often booked well in advance, however, there are alternative accommodation options in nearby Bend; the gateway to Central Oregon’s great outdoors.

Pre/Post Trip Accommodation and Trip Extension Options

Due to the size and popularity of the resort, rooms are often booked well in advance, however, there are alternative accommodation options in nearby Bend; the gateway to Central Oregon’s great outdoors. For accommodation options or further information about Bend, please visit

Food and Drink

All breakfasts, lunches and dinners are included in your package. For dinners, the Elk Lake Resort offers a menu of sustainable and locally grown foods, while the resort bar serves locally brewed craft beers, as well as other beers, wines and spirits. Due to the remoteness of Elk Lake Resort and to take advantage of the kitchen facilities at our accommodation, we would recommend buying any additional food or drink you would like extra to the meals provided before arriving at the resort.

Travel Advice

Money, Extra Expenses and Tipping

You should bring extra money with you to cover such items as souvenirs and drinks. The local currency is US dollars ($US). Beer and wine are available on site at the resort and are payable locally. There is no ATM at the Elk Lake Resort, so we recommend bringing cash with you to cover these expenses. Gratuity for your accommodation is included in your package, however, we suggest a tip of between 5-10% for services such as evening meals, transfers and taxis.

Responsible Travel

SwimTrek is conscious of the importance of protecting the world’s natural wonders. We are acutely aware of our responsibility to not only take care of the natural environments which we are lucky enough to explore, but also to educate our guests about the importance of conservation efforts and responsible tourism. It’s for this reason that we have worked so closely with our partners to ensure that our trips are conducted in the most responsible and sustainable way possible, working tirelessly to minimise the impact of our presence on local marine life and the natural habitat.

Passports and Visas

Non-residents of the United States require a full passport to enter the country, which should be valid for six months beyond the expected length of stay. The majority of visitors to the US require a visa to entry the country. Many nationalities can apply online for the ESTA Visa Waiver Program by visiting ESTA. For further information about US visas, please visit US State Department. Please note that visa regulations are subject to change and we advise that you check your own visa requirements prior to travel.

Travel Insurance

We consider comprehensive travel insurance to be essential, and we strongly recommend that you purchase insurance which includes, but is not limited to, cover for illness, accident, emergency repatriation, ambulance, air ambulance, helicopter rescue services, cancellation, lost luggage and delays. Your travel insurance should also cover you for open water swimming and any other activity listed in your trip itinerary (including races and competitions, where applicable). Please read your policy details carefully and remember to take them with you on your trip for your own reference. For further information about travel insurance, please visit

Health Information and Recommended Vaccinations

For comprehensive health information for people travelling to the United States, including all recommended and required vaccinations, please visit Travel Health Pro. Please note that this information is subject to change and you should re-check this site regularly prior to your trip.

Travel Plugs & Electricity

For a useful source of information on the different electrical outlets, electrical plugs, and electric sockets, please visit

  • Marlys, Mark and, David made a wonderful week in pristine waters of Oregon truly breathtaking and beautiful .

    Heather R, Australia - 2018

Book with Confidence
Our flexible booking conditions include a 14-day refund guarantee and free trip changes.
Terms and Conditions apply.

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