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The Route

Following Highway 97A, descend into the glacier-carved valley and approach the massive lake flanked by wooded hillsides and rolling vineyards. One of the most stunning lakes in the world, Lake Chelan has drawn generations of families to its shores. Water sports, beach-side fun, wine and small-town charm combine to make the area an idyllic year-round getaway. 

The lower end of the lake is home to the resort communities of Chelan and Manson. Both feature water recreation, visitor amenities and resort facilities. Swimmers play in shallow shoreline waters while sail, fishing and motor boats 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. Explore boutiques, gift shops, galleries, exceptional gourmet fare, and locally owned wineries. Skydiving has become immensely popular here too — what better way to check out the view than from thousands of feet up? Book the experience of a lifetime with Skydive Chelan. And if you love wine as much as you do adventure, combine the two! Skydive directly into the vineyards of Tsillan Cellars, with a bottle of wine waiting for you at the bottom. Speaking of aerial views, taking a tour of the valley by helicopter cannot be beat with Lake Chelan Helicopters!

The Lake Chelan Wine Valley is Washington State’s 11th American Viticultural Area (AVA) comprised of award-winning boutique wineries with more than 150 acres of vineyards, and estate winery vineyards with 110 acres of additional grape production. Tasting rooms dot the north and south shores of the lake, providing 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.

Travel seven scenic miles uplake on Highway 150 to reach Manson, a friendly village surrounded by vineyards and orchards. The town’s centerpiece is a waterfront park at Manson Bay with picnic facilities, a swim area and boat moorage. The Manson Apple Blossom Festival, held in May, is popular with locals and guests alike. Meander along Manson’s Scenic Loop for great views of Wapato, Dry, and Roses lakes, in addition to Lake Chelan.

State parks and Forest Service campgrounds along the entire length of Lake Chelan allow you to plan a boat trip of several days with overnight stops along the way. Along the south shore, the paved highway ends at Twenty-Five Mile Creek State ParkLake Chelan State Park, also on the south shore, features camping, picnicking, water sports and boat launch facilities (see permit info). Keep your eyes open for wildlife – mountain goat, bear, deer, sheep and a variety of birds are often spotted. Fishing in Lake Chelan is exceptional year-round. The cool depths yield land-locked lingcod or burbot, lake trout, kokanee which are land-locked sockeye salmon, as well as land-locked Chinook salmon. Rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and smallmouth bass are abundant in the shallower, warmer, clear waters near shore. 

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, floatplane or hiking. The Lady of the Lake leaves Chelan with regularly scheduled passenger 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 the North Cascades National Park. Hundreds of miles of trails carry hikers into four adjoining wilderness areas. Stay overnight at the historic family-run Stehekin Valley Ranch.

Lake Chelan Area Visitor Resources

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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
Stehekin
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.
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Side Trip: Manson
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Winter
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Book Now!
Campbell's Resort Voted 2018 Best Resort, King 5 Evening, Best NW Escapes!
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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.
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Amazing Food
Chefs in this region are making some tremendous Pacific Northwest fare. Seriously delicious!
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Water Fun
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Scenic Rides
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Fish On!
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EV Charging Station
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Images from Lake Chelan
Beautiful Lake Chelan at Sunset
Art By the Bay-Stanwood
Evergreen State Fair, Monroe
Evergreen State Fair, Monroe
Evergreen State Fair, Monroe
Top Ten Things to do in the North Cascades
The North Cascades’ 13 million acre ecosystem includes 7 million acres of protected public lands on both sides of the border – and endless opportunities for recreation, exploration, naturalizing and recharging one’s soul. Here are some of my favorite places from the northern end of the range, where I’ve lived, worked and taught for more than three decades. Read More >>>>
Watchable Wildlife: Bald Eagles
Symbolized as the National bird of the United States in 1782, Bald Eagles are unique to North America and they can be found in abundance in many areas of the Cascade Loop throughout the year. Read More >>>>
Photographer's Paradise!
The Cascade Loop Scenic Byway spans the east and west sides of Washington State's Cascade Mountain Range, and photo opportunities along the route are varied and spectacular, covering all interests for professional photographers and snap-happy travelers alike. Spring brings blossoms and babies, and every region of the Loop has ample viewing opportunities from the tulip fields of the Skagit Valley to the orchard blossoms along the Wenatchee and Columbia rivers. Wildlife abounds in nearly every meadow and stream throughout the Loop, and a careful eye can spot fawns, ducklings and occasional… Read More >>>>
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