For the ultimate Bend, Oregon, adventure, take a half-day, guided tour with Wanderlust Tours. No matter the season or temperature, a variety of adventures await with Wanderlust. In the summer, there are canoeing, kayaking and volcano sightseeing tours. In the winter, there is snowshoeing, bonfires in the snow and moonlight and star tours. In the spring and fall, families can try cave tours (available year-round) or family-friendly brewery tours. Since 1993, the knowledgeable Wanderlust guides have been touring visitors through all of Bend’s natural wonders.
We loved the Lave Tube Cave Tour and so will your kids! After a short drive into the high desert, everyone is outfitted with helmets and headlamps before walking down the stairs to the one-way entrance to the 1,862-foot long Boyd Cave (there are 577 lava tube caves in Bend!). When lava flowed down from the Newberry Volcano 80,000 years ago, it created lava-like rivers along the way. The outer lava closest to the air and the surface hardens and creates a crust-like layer. But inside the lava cooled more slowly and it shrinks when it cools so the lava rock crumbled, thus a cave is created. Lava tube caves are also not far from the surface compared to limestone caves. So you are only a few hundred feet below the surface inside the cave. What is now the cave floor was actually once the “normal” ground surface thousands of years ago.
Because these caves are lava tubes and not limestone caves, everything can be touched, so little hands do not have to be held back from touching every rock, formation, lava-sicle (yes, it’s a real cave term) and crack inside the caves. With headlamps shining the way through the pitch-black cave, be prepared to climb over giant boulders, walk on uneven lava stones and crawl and bend through small rock passageways.
While no experience and little athleticism is needed to explore the caves, do know that this is not a leisurely stroll in the dark either. While exploring the caves you will learn about the cave’s history and the ecosystem below the Earth. When you reach the end of the tube, it’s time to turn back, but not after first enjoying the quiet darkness inside the cave. The Lava Tube Cave Tour is a fascinating underground adventure that the whole family will never forget.
The tours run between three and four hours.
Varies based on activity and reservations are required.
Children 5 and older are welcome on the cave tours and there is no age limit on the other tours offered. However, know your child’s limits before booking a tour.
All tours depart from the Wanderlust Tours office, located in a shopping center where there is free parking.
What to Bring and Know
Layered clothing is encouraged for all tours, but remember the Cave Tours take place in 45-degree temperatures year-round. Bring a water bottle, camera, sunscreen, hat and appropriate shoes for your tour (closed-toed shoes for the Cave Tour). Ladies, leave purses or bags behind for the Cave Tour. You will quickly realize you need full range of motion and balance when traversing the cave and a bag will only hinder your experience. The last stop for restrooms is at the Wanderlust Tour offices as there are no onsite restrooms during the tours.