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5 days
Short Escape

Trip Dates


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Tour Highlights

  • Swim some of the most pristine North American waters in Oregon's stunning Cascade Lakes

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

  • Complete a series of rare swims as we explore the protected Deschutes National Forest 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 to 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 swim distance and average daily swim distance (over the course of two swims) prior to the start of the trip.

The average swim distance is around 2.5km. The average daily swim distance is around 5km.

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 (swimmers only)
  • Professional swim guides and full safety escort on all swims (swimmers only)
  • All breakfasts
  • All lunches (swimmers only)
  • All dinners
  • Water sport activities (subject to availability and may incur an additional charge. Please see 'Trip Information' section for trip specific details)
  • Full ABTOT Financial Protection
  • Technique advice with video playback
  • Five nights accommodation
  • All National Park Fees and Permissions Charges

What's not included?

  • Travel to and from the start of the tour
  • Alcoholic beverages, which can be purchased locally

Sample Trip Itinerary

Please note that the below daily itineraries are an example of the swims that may take place during your trip, however, actual swim locations and distances will vary according to local weather and swim conditions. Your SwimTrek guides and local boat pilots 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 we arrive at the resort on the banks of Elk Lake, we will have time to check into our accommodation before meeting for a welcome meeting and safety briefing. Our 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

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.

Swimming Distances

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

*Please note that these swims are an example of what may take place during your trip and should be used as a guide only. Actual swim locations and distances will vary according to local weather and swim conditions.

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

Walk Distance
North Twin Lake – South Twin Lake 2½-5km

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. Throughout the course of your trip, there may be further hiking opportunities.

Walking Conditions

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 Temp* Air Temp*
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 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.

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

For your basic, essential packing list, please visit our Packing List page on the website. For additional, location specific items, please see the information below.

SwimTrek will provide water and electrolytes at every location and refill your bottles.

Item Item
Insect Repellent Personal Drink Bottle (x 2)
Swimming Goggles (x 2)*

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

For this trip, we recommend that you bring a wetsuit with you.

SwimTrek will supply swim hats. The guides will no longer distribute shared drinks bottles but will fill your personal drink bottles. Please ensure these are clearly marked to help our coaches identify yours. If you would like to use a wetsuit, rash vest, snorkel, 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.

As SwimTrekkers come from all over the world, and join our swimming holidays in numerous destinations, we don't currently offer flights as part of our SwimTrek packages. We do however want to do as much as we can to ensure that our guests get the best deals when travelling to one of our trips so check out SwimTrek's tips to help you get the best deals for your flights page on the website.

Flights to Redmond Municipal Airport

For further information about flying into Redmond Municipal Airport from within the United States, please visit

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 $150 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 $60 for up to four passengers. For further information about the airport shuttle and taxi services, please visit

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. Additional information and for booking extra nights please visit

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.

For more information, please visit our food and drink page on the website.

Travel Advice

For more information on any of the following sections please visit the Travel Advice page of our website.

Money, Extra Expenses and Tipping

You should bring extra money with you to cover items such as meals not already included in your package, drinks, entertainment, souvenirs, etc.

In some countries, tipping (gratuities) is not part of the culture - in others it has become an expected norm. We believe that tipping is done entirely at your own discretion. If you have been provided with excellent service it may be something you wish to do. Your SwimTrek Guides can advise on local norms for service providers like boat crew, waiters or taxis. Nothing is expected for your SwimTrek Guides but many groups like to present something to the Guides at the end of the trip.

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 and guides.

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.

For more information, please visit our Responsible Travel page on the website.

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 enter the country. Many nationalities can apply online for the ESTA Visa Waiver Program by visiting For further information about US visas, please visit

Please note that visa regulations are subject to change and it is important 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, please visit our Travel Insurance page on the website.

Here at SwimTrek, we pride ourselves on our focus on safety and the well-being of all our guests. As we operate in some beautiful and remote locations medical facilities are not always easily accessible. SwimTrek Guides, and many staff working for our local partners, are first aid trained. However, we ask that you read our Travel Health page to ensure that you are informed about general Travel and Swim Health precautions.

Internet Access, Electricity and Travel Plugs

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

Related Trips

  • An extraordinary and memorable experience in pristine lakes with professional guides who excel in experience and care. Fellow swimmers were cordial and warm.

    Barbara, USA - 2023
  • A unique and adventurous vacation. Loved it.

    Stewart L, USA - 2023
  • Invigorating fresh lake swims surrounded by gorgeous scenery!

    Cedar Baldridge - 2021
  • My first swim and it met all my expectations. It really confirmed my love for open water. Thank you!

    Robert Bullen-Smith - 2021
  • Getting warm with the cold waters of the Cascade Lakes.

    Ian Rogers - 2021

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