Travel Advisory: COVID-19
Beautiful Lake Chelan
Free Travel Guide
Sign Up for
Our Newsletter

On The Loop: Lake Chelan Valley

Following Highway 97A, descend into a glacier-carved valley and approach this pristine lake surrounded by rolling orchards and vineyards. One of the most stunning lakes in the world, Lake Chelan has drawn generations of families to its shores year after year. Water sports, beach side fun, numerous vineyards and wine-tasting rooms combine to make the area an idyllic year-round getaway.

Lake Chelan Wine Valley is Washington state’s 11th American Viticultural Area (AVA). The AVA boasts 24,040 acres located 7 miles along the lake's southern and eastern shores, and the surrounding lands that are at or below 2,000 feet in elevation. Abounding wineries and tasting rooms dot the shores of the lake, in addition to 275 acres of vineyards, that provide wine-tasting experiences year-round. Mark your calendars for special wine events, such as Spring Barrel Tasting, or the ultimate wine experience, Lake Chelan Crush in October.

Enjoy the vineyard views as you approach the lower end of the lake, home to the resort community of Chelan. Explore the historic downtown — friendly, family-owned boutiques and lodging, resort facilities, wine-tasting rooms, galleries, restaurants, small-town charm, and a wonderful visitor information center. Swimmers play in shallow waters while sailboats, fishing boats and motorboats slice through deeper water offshore. The whole family will love a day of fun in the sun at Slidewaters Waterpark. Choose from accommodations on long, sandy beaches with lakefront views, hotels in the center of town, or private cabins tucked in the hills.

Along the wooded, steeper south shore, Lake Chelan State Park features camping, picnicking, water sports and boat launch facilities. The paved highway along the south shore ends at Twenty-Five Mile Creek State Park. Numerous state parks and Forest Service campgrounds along the entire length of Lake Chelan allow you to plan multi-day boat trips with overnight stops along the way (see permit info). Keep your eyes open for wildlife — mountain goats, bears, deer, bighorn sheep and a variety of birds. Fishing in Lake Chelan is exceptional year-round. The cool depths yield landlocked lingcod or burbot, lake trout, kokanee (which are landlocked sockeye salmon), as well as landlocked chinook salmon. Rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and smallmouth bass are abundant in the warmer, clear waters near shore. For an incredible aerial view, take a tour of the valley, and perhaps even the North Cascades by helicopter! Fly with Lake Chelan Helicopters for views you simply can’t see any other way!

Take a short 7-mile drive on Highway 150 along majestic Lake Chelan to the town of Manson. Walk to over 18 wineries and tasting rooms here including Winegirl Wines, known for its exceptional wines and super-friendly attitude! The town’s waterfront park at Manson Bay has picnic facilities, a swim area and boat moorage. The Manson Apple Blossom Festival is held in May and is popular with locals and visitors alike.

Are you a fan of tennis or pickleball? Amazing, freshly prepared and healthy foods? Head to Lake Chelan’s best-kept secret: world-renowned Peter Burwash facility Harmony Meadows Tennis & Event Center, and its on-site Love-All Cafe featuring Blue Star Coffee. Open to the public, this destination center offers eight outdoor Laykold Masters tennis courts with cushioned surface used at the US and Miami Open and two outdoor pickleball courts. The tennis, culinary offerings and views are amazing here.

Meander along Manson’s Scenic Loop for great views of Wapato, Dry, and Roses lakes, in addition to Lake Chelan. You’ll want to spend some quality time in the cute community’s downtown core — complete with wineries, breweries, lodging, boutique shopping, a dog park and family-friendly dining.

Looking to really get off the beaten path? Then a trip to Stehekin is a must. There are no roads to this tiny, uplake, mountain village. It is accessible only by boat, helicopter or hiking. The Lady of the Lake passenger ferry leaves Chelan with regularly scheduled service to Stehekin and back. While in Stehekin, ride horses, kayak, bicycle or fish. Visit the historic Buckner Orchard to see the tools and techniques early settlers used to make a living in this valley over a century ago. Cool off at Rainbow Falls, a picturesque, 312-foot waterfall. The Stehekin Valley is the southern gateway to North Cascades National Park. Hundreds of miles of trails carry hikers into four adjoining wilderness areas.

Next Region: Methow Valley

Lake Chelan Area Visitor Resources

Current Conditions

WSDOT Traffic Conditions & Cameras


Lake Chelan Heritage & History

The 50.5-mile glacial lake slices northwestward into the Cascade mountains. The first people in the area were from the Chelan tribe. The word Chelan (originally spelled Tsillan) means “deep notch,” a fitting name for the third-deepest lake in the U.S. — situated in a valley deeper than the Grand Canyon. It is the largest natural lake in Washington state. The Chelan Tribe spent the winter along the south end of the lake near the Chelan River, which drains the lake to the Columbia River. The Chelan people paddled canoes 50 miles to Stehekin at the head of the lake and then followed a trail over Cascade Pass to trade with Puget Sound tribes. Stehekin is derived from a Salish word that means “the way through.” By the 1860s, tribes were decimated by smallpox epidemics and wars that broke out after the treaties. Remaining Chelan tribal people became part of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.

Plan Your Lake Chelan Adventure

Wildlife & Birding
Read More >>>>

Schedule an extra day or two to visit this off-the-grid community but note there is no access by car. To get there you must take the Lady of the Lake tour boat, a helicopter flight or hike in.

Read More >>>>
Side Trip: Manson
Read More >>>>
Read More >>>>
Wine Country

Lake Chelan is the 11th AVA (American Viticultural Area) in Washington State. Tour vineyards, hit wine tasting rooms and purchase delicious wine souvenirs.

Read More >>>>
Amazing Food

Chefs in this region are making some tremendous Pacific Northwest fare. Seriously delicious!

Read More >>>>
Water Fun
Read More >>>>
Scenic Rides
Read More >>>>
Fish On!
Read More >>>>
EV Charging Station
Read More >>>>

Images from Lake Chelan

Upcoming Events in Lake Chelan

Stories from Lake Chelan

The Night The Mountain Fell
On December 14, 1872, at almost 10pm, folks across the region were awakened by a massive earthquake. Contemporary accounts describe the earth rolling from North to South, no jolting bumps, just the feeling like walking on the deck of a ship in rough seas. Read More >>>>
Filmed on the Cascade Loop
When you are surrounded with the kind of beauty we have on the Cascade Loop, its not surprising that movie crews have been coming to the area for years to film movies. Read More >>>>
Meet the Locals: Steven & Michelle (also their close friend, Wine)
We’ve known Michelle and Steven for a few years and know that one of the things that they really enjoy together, like many Cascade Loop travelers, is our state’s amazing local wines. Did you know that Washington State is home to over 1,000 wineries and over 60,000 acres of wine grapes? AND the Cascade Loop is home to all manner of wineries with different varietals being grown in the various regions of the Loop. It makes sense that since our byway landscape, topography and climate vary wildly from region to… Read More >>>>
Click the Boxes Below to Build Your Personalized Itinerary
+ Destinations
      Lake Chelan Valley
      Leavenworth Cascade Foothills
      Methow Valley
      North Cascades
      Seattle Northcountry
      Skagit Valley & Fidalgo Island
      Stevens Pass Greenway
      Wenatchee Columbia River Valley
      Whidbey Scenic Isle Way
+ Accommodations
     Bed & Breakfasts / Country Inns
     Camping & Glamping
     Farm Stay
     Hotels & Motels
     Large Group Venues
     Lodges & Resorts
     Pet Friendly
+ Dining & Wineries
+ Indoor Activities
     Art Galleries & Studios
     Performing Arts
      + Shopping
+ The Great Outdoors
     Aerial Adventures
     Boat Tours
     Cycling-Mountain Biking
     Farms & Barns
     Fishing & Hunting
     Gardens & Outdoor Art
     Gear Rentals
     Horseback Riding
     National Parks, Forests & Recreation Areas
     Pet Friendly Activities
     Photo Tours & Lessons
     Scenic View Points
     State & Local Parks
     Water Activities
     White Water
     Wildlife Viewing
      + Winter Fun
+ Visitor Info/Services
     National Forest Ranger Stations
     Scenic Byways along the Loop
     Traveler Services: Gas, Snacks, Auto Repair
      + Visitor Centers, Tourism Bureaus, Chambers
     Washington State Resources
Load More...