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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 swim eight of the lakes which lie beneath the peaks of the picturesque Cascade Range.

The lake slopes are covered with a range of tree varieties, including mixed fir, pine, hemlock, vine maple and cedar, while the desert plants include beautiful juniper and sagebrush. A variety of wildlife also abounds 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. Since 1922, the resort has been welcoming guests 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 is a combination of stunning lake crossings and forest treks at altitudes of up to 1,500m. Swimmers should have a basic understanding of open water swimming and be capable of completing the average daily swim distance of around 5 km (split over a minimum of two swims) prior to the start of the trip. The wild setting suits those who enjoy both lake swimming and forest trekking.

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

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.

Day 1

After your arrival at the Elk Lake 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 a circumnavigation of Elk Lake, starting and ending at the Elk Lake resort via the southern end of the lake at Little Fawn. After some time to rest and have lunch we then hike around the area via the Quinn Creek Trail.

In the afternoon, we take the opportunity to video your stroke both above and below the water. The early evening is given over to a video analysis session with your swim guides where we play back your stroke from earlier in the day.

Day 3

Today we start off with a trek along the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway as we hike down to the Lava Lake. The walk is a journey through a volcanic landscape with excellent views of Broken Top, Mt Bachelor and South Sister Peaks. After arriving at Lava Lake, we take time for a rest and a snack at the Lava Lake Resort before plunging into its pleasant waters. We cover the full length of the lake, with Williamson Mountain ever present throughout the duration of our swim.

This afternoon, we journey to the eastern end of Cultus Lake, a glacial water body, where we 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 4

Today, we head off to swim the lovely waters of the Twin Lakes. Both North and South Twin Lakes are two nearly identical natural lakes. 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.

Following this morning’s double crossing, we head to Wickiup Reservoir, which is the largest of the Cascade Lakes. As we swim, we’ll keep an eye out for both migratory and resident birds, including ospreys, cranes and hummingbirds, to name but a few.

Day 5

On the final day of our trip we travel down to the southern section of the Three Sisters Wilderness to Odell and Crescent Lakes, where we swim across the width of each of them. The majestic Volcanic Peak, which is part of the Cascade Volcanic Arc, dominates the skyline on both swims. The water in these lakes is some of the most pure in the entire Cascade region.

After our two swims, we have lunch together before heading back to Elk Lake Resort, where the tour comes to an end.

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

Trip Information

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. If you would like to use a wetsuit, rash vest or fins during your swims, please ensure that you bring these with you.

Swimming Distances

Swim Distance
Elk Lake 3½km
Lava Lake 2km
Cultus Lake 2½km
Twin lakes 1km, 1½km
Wickiup Reservoir 3km
Odell Lake 2½km
Crescent Lake 2½km

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 what you have been doing.

Walking Distances

There is quite a lot of walking and trekking on this trip, which allows you to reach lakes which are inaccessible by other modes of transport. Elk to Lava lake is 8 km trek, while Lava Lake to Little Lava Lake and Elka Lake treks are both less than 1.5 km. On average, you can expect to walk an average of 5 km/day, with most walks taking 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.

Group Size and Boat Support

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 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.

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.

Practical Information


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

Cabins 22 and 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.

For accommodation options or further information about Bend, please visit: Visit Bend.


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. If you prefer to dine elsewhere throughout your trip, it is possible either catch a taxi or use your own vehicle to travel to Bend, which has a wide range of restaurants and bars. Please note that the journey into Bend takes approximately 30 minutes each way.

Extra Expenses

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.

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.

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

  • The 'Cascade Lakes, Oregon' trip is new for 2018. As soon as we have run our first trip, we will share some customer reviews here.

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