One advantage of having the coolest job on the planet is that I spend a lot of time checking out cool tours so I know what’s worth recommending to Bend visitors.
Life’s rough, I know.
In my defense, I’m not completely greedy. Yes, I’ve officially completed every single outing offered by Wanderlust Tours, including snowshoeing, kayaking, canoeing, caving, Bend Brew Bus, and even the volcano tour, but I often invite loved ones and colleagues to join me. In the interest of sharing some perspectives beyond my own, here’s the lowdown on three of Wanderlust’s most popular summer outings, with viewpoints from a few of those folks.
The Lava Cave Tour
(Joined by 11-year-old stepson, Cedar)
My most recent underground outing was my second cave tour with Wanderlust Tours (the first, to Skeleton Cave, I wrote about in this post). This time around, we hit nearby Boyd Cave. The fee of $55 for adults and $50 for kids 12 and under includes transportation, helmet, headlamp, and all kinds of amazing insights from Wanderlust’s trained naturalist guides.
We explored the cave in depth, learning the history and geology behind Bend’s elaborate lava cave system. We even learned about plants and wildlife surrounding the cave (including a memorable moment when our guide demonstrated eating an ant and assuring us it’s packed with vitamin C).
Speaking as a 38-year-old female, I know the Lava Cave Tour is one of my favorite outings in Bend, but I was curious what 11-year-old Cedar would have to say. Here are some of his insights:
Me: What did you like best about the cave tour?
Cedar: The part that was really cool was how lava actually made this big, long tunnel. It was actually so hot it melted the rock underneath. Lava must be really hot!
Me: What do you think other kids would like about it?
Cedar: If other kids were to do it, I think they would really like that there are big boulders to climb on in the caves. I think that makes it more fun. Trust me, I’m a kid, and I know!
The Volcano Tour
(Joined by popular mommy blogger Janel Case, along with her four young sons ranging in age from 7 months to 6 years)
I’d been wanting to try the Volcano Tour for years, so when a well-known, family-focused blogger expressed interest in checking it out, I was lacing up my hiking boots before I even finished emailing, “heck yeah!”
The volcano tour takes place in Newberry National Monument. Led by a knowledgeable naturalist guide, we started out hiking through the belly of a volcanic caldera, checking out black glass obsidian flows and learning about the Native American history of the area. Next, we headed to stunning Paulina Lake to check out an old growth hemlock forest. We ended things at Paulina Falls, with our guide sharing insights and knowledge none of us would have been able to get exploring on our own.
“My boys loved pointing out the smooth black rocks that felt like glass along our path. We even saw trees that were able to grow despite the rough terrain and poor soil,” Janel wrote in her blog post about the outing. “We really enjoyed our tour and our guide was fabulous with the kids playing with them and teaching them things at their level with games to make it fun and easier to remember the things we talked about.”
For more of Janel’s insights, be sure to read the whole post. And to schedule your own Volcano Tour, contact Wanderlust at 1-800-962-2862.
The Starlight Canoe Tour
(Joined by my better half, Craig Zagurski, along with a team of Visit Bend volunteers and staff)
Here’s how you know you’re on an incredible tour: It’s raining the entire time, and you don’t even notice because you’re having so much fun.
That’s the way it was when we set out for the Starlight Canoe Tour on one of Bend’s rare, rainy evenings. I was so captivated by stories from our guides and the thrill of paddling across the glassy surface of Elk Lake, that I barely registered the fact that I was soaked to the bone. I can only imagine that on clear nights (which is what we have 95% of the time in Bend) the scenery and stars are breathtaking.
The timing of this particular outing meant we were on the Starlight Canoe Tour, but Moonlight Canoe Tours are also offered during periods of full moon. The $65 price includes guides, gear, instruction, dessert, and a hot beverage.
Maybe it was just me, but this tour felt like the coziest, most romantic outing I’ve enjoyed with Wanderlust. That could be because I was accompanied by my amazing gentleman friend, Craig Zagurski, who had this to say about the outing:
“What I loved about the Starlight Canoe Tour, as I have on any adventure with Wanderlust, was how the guides shared their massive knowledge of the region to the tour group with such enthusiasm. Those folks are some of the best cheerleaders for Central Oregon’s landscape and natural beauty, and I can’t help but fall in love with the high desert all over again each time I join their tour. I also treasured the group gathering around the fire pit for local beer, delicious treats, and stories under the starry sky.”
So there you have it—four different viewpoints on three Wanderlust Tours outings. Ready to book now? I think I am.
I wonder if there’s a frequent flyer program?