Meet Our Staff!
Wanderlust Tours offers half-day guided tours and trips in Bend, Sunriver and Sisters Oregon. Wanderlust Tours has specialized in outdoor tours, outdoor activities and things to do while on vacation in Bend and Sunriver, Oregon since 1993.
Our Mission: Wanderlust Tours exists to vibrantly share the natural and cultural history of the Central Oregon region to small groups of interested guests while touring via canoeing, kayaking, caving, volcano tours, snowshoeing, hiking and nature-based sightseeing.
JAMES - NATURALIST GUIDE
James has a degree in outdoor recreation leadership from Oregon State University and has been guiding with Wanderlust Tours since 2007. James is an Eagle Scout, youth leader, and maybe the fifth most handsome Wanderlust Tours guide. When not on tour, James' other passions include riding bikes with his 2- and 4-year old sons, photography, bird identification, fly fishing and home brewing beer, wine & mead. If you're going on tour with James, you may or may not want to get him started talking about lichens, native birds or fermentation science.
ALEXIS - NATURALIST GUIDE
An Alaskan native, Alexis worked in Southeast Alaska for over a decade. She especially enjoyed being a tour guide for the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad in Skagway. Situated on the edge of a deep fjord and surrounded by mountains, Skagway was the perfect playground for outdoor fun! After earning a degree in Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, she adventured around the world. Her most treasured experiences abroad were becoming a yoga teacher in India, and trekking to Everest Base Camp in Nepal. When she’s not leading tours, you’ll often find her diving into her favorite hobbies: strumming a ukulele or climbing at Smith Rock!
DAMIAN - NATURALIST GUIDE
After obtaining a Botany degree from the University of Washington, Damian moved to Moab and worked as a seasonal ranger at Arches National Park. After 9 seasons, he became a contract wildlife biologist focusing on Colorado Plateau T&E avian species. He and his family moved to Bend in 2004, to better explore the richness of the High Desert, Cascades, and Central Coast. He is an avid birder and botanizer and has written several hiking and wildflower identification field guides. In his free time, he and his wife enjoy kayaking, birding, traveling, and hiking with dogs. Damian enjoys sharing the wonders of nature with guests and is always up for owling!
ERIKA - NATURALIST GUIDE
Erika's passions lie in the outdoors, and she strives to balance both the enjoyment and the preservation of our natural world. Her sense of responsibility and stewardship to our natural world was instilled from a young age as she grew up exploring in the Sierra Nevadas and playing in the Pacific Ocean. After earning a degree in Environmental Design, she decided to pursue a life spent in the outdoors at the intersection of recreation and conservation. The Cascades were calling, so Erika and her dog (read: best friend) decided to answer. Nowadays, they call Bend home and Wanderlust family. Erika enjoys learning about the world we live in and is committed to making it a better place, a spirit that she hopes to share with all she meets.
JARED - NATURALIST GUIDE
While attending the University of Maine, Jared spent time working in Acadia National Park as a Ridge Runner teaching Leave No Trace. After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism and a minor in Outdoor Education he relocated to Bend. He is an avid rock climber, but also dabbles in whitewater kayaking, yoga, and backpacking. Jared’s passion and excitement for the outdoors inspires everyone he meets.
JASON - NATURALIST GUIDE
While attending College in Southwest Virginia Jason spent much of his time exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains. This is where his passion for the natural world really started to expand, as he worked towards receiving a Degree in Environmental Science while also learning more about backpacking, mountain biking, and kayaking. After doing several short trips on the Appalachian Trail, Jason decided that he was going to do a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. Jason drove across country and took a job as a field biologist in California before starting his 154 day hike. While hiking Jason become enamored with Central Oregon, setting his sights on Bend. Now, Jason has the joy of sharing his love of the natural world with those who are interested!
KATIE - NATURALIST GUIDE
Katie spent her childhood along the banks of the Mississippi River in Western Illinois. She spent summers at her grandparents cabin, where she learned to navigate the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota realizing early on, a career in the great outdoors was what she wanted. She graduated from Western Illinois university with a degree in recreation, parks, tourism administration with an emphasis in outdoor recreation. While in college she studied recreation in Alicante, Spain. Directly after college she began working in all walks of recreation. Teaching both fishing and crabbing on the Atlantic Ocean in Hilton Head Island. From there she moved to the Pocono mountains in Pennsylvania to be a high ropes and zip line guide. Now she calls Oregon home for her newest adventure. Katie is always looking to share her passion for the outdoors and all that the world has to offer with everyone she meets.
LEXI - NATURALIST GUIDE
Lexi graduated from Penn State having studied geology, human dimensions of natural resources and the environment, and adventure literature. She is grateful to have known many places intimately. She has spent time teaching, leading, and learning in the outdoors of Maine, Colorado, New Hampshire, Arkansas, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Oregon. The Pacific Northwest makes her soul shine, and she could not be happier to be here facilitating your exploration, understanding, and love of the magic this wondrous area exudes. When not guiding for Wanderlust, she is cooking up delicious dishes at one of Bend's food carts, helping you find your next pair of skis, or teaching whitewater kayaking. She is fond of “neature,” long walks (up mountains), (kayaking over) waterfalls, exploring through literature, personal adventure, creative endeavors, engaging in deep conversations, winking at strangers in elevators, writing poetry in pubs, and daring greatly.
NICK - NATURALIST GUIDE
Nick first fell in love with the outdoors while walking through Tilden Regional Park in Berkeley, California as a 3 year old searching for guppies in Lake Anza. As he aged, he learned important outdoors skills at summer camp, like how to catch a crawdad with some lunch meat, a string, and a paperclip. After mastering the arts of summer camp and working as a camp counselor, Nick attended UC Santa Cruz, where he studied History and fell in love with backpacking in the Redwoods. This love of the outdoors and backpacking took him to Portland, Oregon, where he worked with organic food, farmers, and regenerative landscapers for five years. Nick hopes to share his loves of history, ecology, and storytelling with all of his clients and is very excited to call Bend home.
PATRICK - NATURALIST GUIDE
Growing up in Central Pennsylvania, Pat spent a great bit of time exploring and playing in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. He attended college at Penn State University, where he received a degree in Recreation, Park and Tourism Management, focusing on Adventure Programming, Environmental Education and Interpretation. When Pat moved to Bend, he fell in love with all it had to offer. He spends his free time snowboarding, hiking, biking, boating and fly-fishing with his dog. Pat shares his connection to the outdoor world with every guest!
BETHANY - OFFICE MANAGER
Being in the great outdoors is just one of Bethany's many passions. A native Portlander, she grew up exploring trails around Oregon with her dad. She still loves to get out hiking as often as possible but can also be found painting, reading, or trying to convince her niece and nephews to climb all the trees in their backyard. After receiving a degree in English, Bethany spent several years experiencing different adventures: coaching basketball, painting sets for theater companies, and teaching in Japan to name a few. She decided to make Central Oregon her home and she is excited to share all of its wonder with everyone she can!
GARRETT - MARKETING MANAGER
Oregon native Garrett wanders wild through the PNW by way of boots, paddles, ropes, and 2-wheels. He can usually be found on Sundays suffering a grueling made-up adventure that typically encompasses a couple different sports and unmapped destinations known to few. IPA helps plan the adventure, while anything in a tortilla fuels it. If you happen to catch him around town, he's likely to be enjoying a burger at one of his favorite breweries planning the next epic quest into the wilderness.
COURTNEY - NATURALIST GUIDE / SALES MANAGER
Originally from Upstate New York she graduated from the University at Buffalo and spent her free time hiking in the Adirondack Mountains. She left NY for a 145 day thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail where she fell in love with Central Oregon and its High Desert! In her free time you can find her exploring the great outdoors by way of trail running, rock climbing, mountain biking, surfing and skiing. Her dog Clementine found her in Bend and now enjoys frolicking in the outdoors almost as much as she does. Courtney is excited to share the knowledge, passion and excitement she has for the outdoors with others!
JEFF - CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER
Jeff has over a decade of experience as a naturalist and still relishes working with the sun on his back. Jeff attended the University of Wisconsin and earned a degree in Geology where he focused strongly on Speleology and Hydrology. He has worked for the U.S. Forest Service as a Watershed Technician and Wilderness Conservationist, as a Midwest Cave Guide, and as a Bear Naturalist and fishing guide in Alaska. With an easy going, yet intelligent guiding style, you will find Jeff’s passion and admiration of our natural world quite contagious.
DAVE - OWNER, PRESIDENT
Dave founded Wanderlust Tours in 1993. Dave’s passion is to help people understand the intricate links between nature and us; after all, we rely on everything she provides for us. Dave and his wife, Aleta, received the 2000 Governor’s Tourism Award. Governor Kitzhaber gave this award to Wanderlust Tours in recognition of their leadership, cooperation and support for building sustainable tourism in Oregon. In 2005 Wanderlust Tours received the Gene Leo award for their outstanding contributions and efforts in outdoor recreation and for its focus on Oregon’s natural beauty. In 2007 Dave and Aleta were awarded the Excellence in Family Business Award from the Austin Family Business Program at Oregon State University for promoting the understanding of natural, cultural and environmental issues in Oregon. Outside of business, life is active with his family pursuing outdoor recreation in Bend’s nearby forest, traveling and volunteering in various capacities.
ALETA - CO-OWNER
Aleta co-founded Wanderlust Tours with Dave in 1993. Aleta's role and passion for Wanderlust is in marketing, public relations, and the company image. She has a degree in communications and has marketing experience ranging from Chicago PR firms to the High Desert Museum. Aleta met Dave while guiding in the Canadian Rockies and they created Wanderlust Tours together before they married. Aleta's other full-time job has the title of "Mom" to daughter Annika. Aleta loves trail running, fitness, reading, theater, independent films and rock climbing with her daughter. Annika is a Wanderlust guide-in-training, born and raised in Bend. She loves to run, snowshoe, sing, rock climb and swim. She especially loves reading chapter books.