About the Area
Lake Chelan Valley
Located in the heart of Washington’s Cascade Mountains, Lake Chelan is a spectacular Pacific Northwest waterfront destination. Lake Chelan is a three-hour drive from Seattle and Spokane. Fed by more than 100 glaciers from the Cascade Mountains, Lake Chelan is characterized by its crystal clear, blue water; sunny, semi-desert climate; and sprinkled horizon of fruit orchards and vineyards. Described as one of the most beautiful lake settings in the world, generations of families have been making the journey to Lake Chelan to enjoy year-round recreational opportunities in a world class setting. Visitors experience a combination of breathtaking scenery along with a long list of activities including boating, water sports, golf, hiking, fishing, snowmobiling and cross country skiing. Current, there are over 25 boutique wineries operating as members of the Lake Chelan Wine Valley that attract attention from winemakers, grape growers and wine enthusiasts throughout the Northwest. Downtown Chelan is home to a classic American Main Street with galleries, retail shops, a variety of dining options and the crowned jewel, Ruby Theatre offering visitors a look back into the history of small town America.
Chelan is the only incorporated community in the Northern part of Chelan county and is located along the Southeast end of Lake Chelan. The city’s year round population is approximately 4,000; however, these numbers can swell to 25,000 during summer months due to Chelan’s popularity among tourists and part-time residents.
Historic Downtown Chelan
With a rich history that dates back to the 1800’s, where early explorers ventured into town to establish fur-trading centers with Native Americans and miners were the first homesteaders, Lake Chelan’s historic downtown offers visitors the opportunity to rediscover small town America. Downtown features boutiques, quaint shops, galleries, gift shops and restaurants. Many of the shops include the original works of local artisans and craftsman. In addition, the Historic Downtown Chelan Association and the Chamber host and support events throughout the year that bring the community together including music festivals, rodeos, seasonal winery events, fireworks, kids activities and charity fundraisers.
Stehekin is a small, unincorporated community located at the northwest end of Lake Chelan. Accessible only by boat or seaplane (or by foot if you’re up for a 50-mile hike), this hamlet nestled in the North Cascades at the headwaters of Lake Chelan boasts 95 full-time residents, blue-green water fed by glaciers, sub-alpine timber, deer outside your front door, and a kind of magic only found when absolutely lost in nature.
A small convenience store is open at the North Cascades Lodge, but for most groceries, the closest grocery store is down lake 50 miles in Chelan. Residents are able to send a grocery list along with a blank check to the store in Chelan for their order to be filled. Their groceries are then picked up and delivered to the dock in Stehekin by Lake Chelan Boat Company.
The small lake side village of Manson lies along the north shore of Lake Chelan. This quaint agri-artisan community enjoys incredible views of snow capped peaks that rise over 7,000 feet from the lake shore. The tranquility, spectacular setting and lush resources have inspired and sustained many generations of unique family businesses, shops, restaurants, vineyards and wineries. From the apple orchards to the alpine firs and glaciers of the Cascade Crest, Manson offers an unparalleled variety of scenic and recreational experiences.
Known as one of the top fisheries in the Northwest, Lake Chelan stocking programs release 100,000 Chinook salmon, 60,000 Lake trout, 100,000 Rainbow trout and 600,000 Kokanee into the Lake each year. Fishermen can also head to nearby Antilon Lake, Roses Lake Wapato Lake, Stehekin River and Columbia River that yield Bluegill, Catfish, Crappie, German Brown trout and largemouth Bass.
Boating and Water Sports
The third deepest lake in the country, Lake Chelan is a 50.5 mile glacier-fed lake and is 1,486 feet at its deepest point, making it the ideal place for water recreation. Guests enjoy going out on the Lake for a day of swimming, boating, water-skiing, jet-skiing, parasailing, kayaking, canoeing, rowing, tubing, cruising, sightseeing or just simply relaxing to sunbathe. There are six boat launches available for public use on the shorelines of Lake Chelan and multiple fueling stations. In addition, visitors can rent equipment during their stay at various local locations.
Hiking and Mountain Biking
Lake Chelan offers visitors a variety of opportunity for hiking and mountain biking at all skill levels with an abundance of scenic trails around the Lake and Cascade Mountains. Whether visitors are looking for a fun family outing or an epic mountain ride, Lake Chelan’s varied terrain and long list of biking trails is sure to keep everyone’s wheels spinning. In addition, Lake Chelan offers a variety of hiking options from a simple walk around Riverwalk Park or a hike in the downlake region to a real mountain adventure in the upper regions of the Lake and the Cascade Mountains.
Providing visitors with a variety of options for swinging their clubs while vacationing in the area, Lake Chelan has eight courses including Bear Mountain Ranch, an 18-hole, par 72 course named by PGA Professionals as “One of the Top New Golf Courses in the Country;” Desert Canyon, named by Golf Digest as the “Second Best Golf Course in Washington;” and Lake Chelan Golf Course, an 18-hole, par 72 course with a stunning view of Lake Chelan. The area also features two championship putting courses – The Green at Don Morse Park and Desert Canyon Championship Putting Green. Coming Summer of 2014 will be Gamble Sands in nearby Brewster, WA.
Located in downtown Chelan, The Green at Don Morse Park is designed with water, rocks and hazards just like a regular golf course, but offers families a day of miniature golf enjoyment. Fun for all ages, this 18-hole championship course is the perfect start for non-golfers and future golfers. Also fun for the young and old, Desert Canyon’s Championship Putting Green is both challenging and entertaining for everyone. With 18 holes of fun, this Championship course was the first in Washington and now plays host to clubs, charities, family play and more! For a great mini golf adventure, the Alpenhorn Drive-In on South Lakeshore Road offers a refreshing experience in the cool trees surrounding the lake, near Lake Chelan State Park.
Walk from downtown Chelan to Don Morse Park. It has everything from a putting course, bumper boats and swimming areas to the other comforts of a park – a covered picnic area, a basketball court, playground equipment, swings, restrooms and pop machines. Additional attractions everyone will enjoy are Rally Alley Go-Karts, a go-cart track situated between the Bumper Boats and The Green at Don Morse Park, and a skate park. Riverwalk Park makes a one-mile scenic loop that is excellent for rollerbladers and walkers, and features several great fishing holes for the kids. Picnic areas, boat docking, miniature golf, a swimming hole, restrooms and RV and tent camping can all be found at Lakeshore RV Park in downtown Chelan. Lakeside Park, just west of Chelan, offers a swimming hole, picnic area, restrooms, volleyball, a basketball hoop and playground equipment. Manson Bay Park and Willow Point Park offer family fun and swimming on the north shore of Lake Chelan in Manson.
Just one mile from Chelan, Slidewaters has 10 slides, a Kiddies Aqua Zoo, an arcade, a volleyball area, a gift shop and space for group functions. Open Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day.
Thunder Alley is the latest in family fun at Chelan Lanes. Open seven days a week, this is one activity the whole family is sure to enjoy.
Food and Wine
The Lake Chelan Valley is home to over 25 boutique wineries all within close proximity of one another. Many of the wineries offer a distinctive dining experience to complement their premium wines including a complete multi-course meal. Throughout the year, Lake Chelan visitors tour the vineyards, meet the winemakers, taste the wines and dine at the winery restaurants – the perfect wine-lovers vacation. In addition, the Valley celebrates wine with seasonal events including Red Wine & Chocolate in February, Chelan Nouveau/Spring Release Weekends in April, Spring Barrel Tasting in May, Crush in October and Fall Barrel Tasting in November. Some of the varieties that flourish in the Valley include Syrah, Sangiovese, Malbec and Gewurztraminer.