Central Oregon activities: kayaking the Cascade Lakes with Wanderlust Tours

If you’re enjoying a Central Oregon vacation and wondering what to do with kids in Bend or the surrounding areas, Wanderlust Tours offers outdoor excursions that will introduce you to Oregon’s Cascade Lakes and other wilderness areas while everyone has fun. Located in Bend, Wanderlust offers a full range of outdoor excursions, including cave tours, kayaking Cascade Lakes, canoeing, volcano sightseeing, and brew bus excursions for adults. In winter, they also offer snowshoe trips.

Wanderlust tours Bend

We booked a kayaking tour of the Cascade Lakes during an autumn weekend stay at House of Metolius. Because our resort was located past Sisters, Oregon, we drove into Bend and met our Wanderlust guides in town. (If you’re staying at a Mt. Bachelor-area resort, they’ll pick you up at your door.) Our guides Courtney and Chris were friendly and eager to show us all the wilderness this area has to offer.

kayaking with Wanderlust Tours

After a short van ride up Century Drive and past Mt. Bachelor ski resort to the Cascade Lakes, we unloaded at Hosner Lake. (Wanderlust Tours is the only operator permitted in this region.) It was chilly and raining lightly, but we had come prepared for weather (Wanderlust Tours depart rain or shine!) and the enthusiasm of Courtney and Chris kept us optimistic. We were right not to fret the weather: the serene lake with its mist of cloud and rain was spectacular, and we had the water nearly to ourselves. It was quiet and peaceful, and our kayaks glided nearly effortlessly over the still lake. Courtney was a book of knowledge on local flora and fauna: we loved learning about the different uses of moss and lichen, and the differences between the trees surrounding us.

Wanderlust tours bend

She was great with the kids too. Toby, age 7, kayaked tandem with her, and even though he has a habit of talking guides ears off, she didn’t mind (or at least didn’t let on that she minded!). She sang songs with him, pointed out wildlife, and generally got everyone in our group enthused about what we were seeing and hearing out of the water. Our 11 and 13-year-olds were happy too, because they were allowed to kayak tandem together. We had only eight kayakers in our group in addition to the two guides, allowing everyone lots of attention and keeping us all safe.

We kayaked for over an hour (or until our hands were numb!) and Courtney assured us that Wanderlust Tours continues to operate their kayak tours as late into the season as possible, as long as there’s demand. While I’m sure a summer tour would have been enjoyable, I’d recommend an autumn excursion: we saw aspects of lake life that would have eluded us in a busier time of year.

We have been on many kayaking trips across the country, and my kids rated Wanderlust Tours as tops. Why? The fun they had with Courtney, and the uniqueness of seeing the lake in October. Courtney did an excellent job of showing us just how much life was out in the Cascade Lakes at this time of year, and her love of the outdoors was obvious.

If you’re coming from the Sisters area, you’ll want to allow for a full half-day for this tour, including driving time. If in the Bend area, it will take about four hours, from 9 am to 1 pm. Food is not included in the kayak tour, so bring a few snacks to store in the van…along with extra dry clothing or extra jackets. Note: kids generally need to be eight years old for this tour.

kayaking Central Oregon

Tour rates: The kayak tour at Cascade Lakes is $55 per person, and includes all transportation, gear, and instruction.

Directions: Call Wanderlust Tours to schedule your tour, and they’ll pick you up or send you a pick-up location. They’re always available at 1-800-962-2862.

As I disclose whenever applicable, we experienced kayaking in the Cascade Lakes as guests of Wanderlust Tours. This compensation came with no expectation of a positive review.