Lake Chelan is a boater’s paradise. The blue, pristine waters of this 50.5-mile long lake open a variety of options for the recreational boater and water sports aficionado, whether they are using the lake to play, fish or to travel into the spectacular and primitive North Cascades. In addition to the 50.5- mile long lake, you’ll find numerous smaller lakes and waterways nearby. The majestic Columbia River lies just four miles east, also providing plenty of opportunity to enjoy water-skiing, jet-skiing, parasailing, kayaking, canoeing, rowing, tubing and cruising. You will also see windsurfers and sailboats, especially up lake in the Lucerne Basin and near Stehekin, where the winds are the most consistent.
Boating — Bring Your Own or Rent
There are a couple year-round public boat launches, and several seasonal launches on Lake Chelan. See the map below for launches, pump-out and refueling stations. Also available for rent: boats, water skis, wakeboards, tubes, scuba gear, paddle boards, canoes, kayaks and personal watercraft.
You can’t come to the lake in the summer and not take a dip! Many city and state parks have great beaches and protected swimming areas. If you are a hearty soul, you can participate in the Polar Bear Splash event which is part of Lake Chelan Winterfest during Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend in January.
Kids love scouting the bottom of crystal clear Lake Chelan for hours of fun. Many local retailers sell snorkel gear. The simplest of equipment, rubber mask, mouth piece and a sense of adventure is all you need. Don’t forget the sunblock!
Canoe & Kayak
A fun way to see the lake is by paddling around in a canoe or kayak. If the big lake is daunting, try one of the smaller lakes near Manson, or the Chelan River at Riverwalk Park. If you don’t bring your own, rent one!
Water Ski & Wakeboard
One of the most popular recreation activities on the lake is being pulled behind a fast-moving boat on skis, a tube or a wakeboard. Often the best time for calm water is in the morning or late afternoon.
Lake Chelan’s upper basin, called the Lucerne Basin, is among the top three deepest gorges in the nation. A depth of 1,486 feet is reached in the area of the lake that is only one mile wide. When the lake is at “full pool” during the summer, the gorge dips 386 feet below sea level. Scuba divers come from far and wide to dive to great depths, and still enjoy the hot Lake Chelan weather. Don’t want to bring your gear? Rent it!
Stand Up Paddle Board
Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) is the fastest growing watersport in the nation. It involves propelling a large surf-like board with a single paddle while balancing atop a body of water. Due to its versatility and ease of learning, Stand Up Paddle Boarding has become the hippest way to explore all types of waterways.
SUP is a family-friendly activity that all ages can participate in as it can be modified to be anything from an intense workout, especially when paired with a yoga routine, to a leisurely paddle around the lake. The unique perspective offered from standing above the water allows you to see water animals and plant life in a completely different manner.
Please remember these important safety requirements: Always wear an approved flotation device. Please observe the boat and water use regulations for the City of Chelan and Chelan County. A brochure is available at the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center, or by calling the Chelan County Sheriff at (509) 663-9911.
Drivers of boats or personal watercraft must be at least 14 years of age, per Washington State regulations. State law requires boat operators to carry a Washington State Boater Education card when operating motorboats with 15 horsepower or greater (including personal watercraft or any motorized watercraft).
Please remember these important safety requirements: Ski in a counter-clockwise pattern, leaving the shoreline at a 45-degree angle with the shoreline on the skier’s right. Always wear an approved flotation device.
Don’t Forget a Boat Permit
Boaters who use federal docks on Lake Chelan will be required to display a “Lake Chelan Federal Dock Site Permit.” A daily permit costs $5.00 while a season pass costs $40.00. Ten dock sites managed by the U.S. Forest Service and five by the National Park Service require dock site permits.
GET YOUR DOCK SITE PERMIT:
- Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center (Chelan)
- Ranger Station (Chelan)
- Kelly’s Hardware (Chelan)
- North Cascades Lodge General Store (Stehekin)
- Old Mill Park (Manson)
- Reeds Marine (Manson)
- Lake Chelan State Park (South Shore)