Where is Lake Chelan?
Lake Chelan is the largest natural lake in Washington, stretching more than 50 miles from the Cascade Mountains down to the Columbia River. The lower end of the lake is easily accessible, just off Highway 97, while the northern reaches of the lake are much more secluded. Most of the northwestern portion of the lake falls within the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, and the small town of Stehekin on the head of the lake serves as the gateway to the North Cascades National Park.
Where to stay near Lake Chelan
Backpackers and long-distance hikers fill campsites in the surrounding forest all summer long, but our vacation rentals on the lake provide a more comfortable home base to explore this fantastic region. Pick up a bottle of wine at the local vineyards, try a delicious selection of outdoor Lake Chelan restaurants, and enjoy fresh-from-the-orchard fruits in your own home away from home!
There are three towns located along Lake Chelan: quaint Stehekin, accessible only by boat or seaplane on the northern end of the lake; the town of Chelan proper, the commercial hub of the area perched on the southeastern tip of the lake; and small but charming Manson, a village tucked on the lakeshore seven miles northeast of Chelan.
Just to the south of Lake Chelan sit a few additional riverfront communities along the Columbia, like Orondo and Chelan Falls. These towns are a little further removed from the lake itself but provide convenient access to fun day trips, like the Bavarian village of Leavenworth or the comparatively bustling city of Wenatchee.
Outdoor adventures near Lake Chelan
The blue waters of Lake Chelan are a hot spot for sailing, jet skiing, kayaking, standup paddleboards and every imaginable water sport. Rent through a provider like Lake Rider Sports, or bring your own gear. Fishermen, drop your line into the deep blue for Bull trout, Rainbow trout, and Kokanee in the wee hours of the morning, then meet up with the rest of the family for water sports galore later in the day.
Two-wheeled enthusiasts will enjoy road rides and single-trek mountain biking trails along Story Mountain and the Devil’s Backbone. Lake Chelan is also home to premier adventure sports including hang gliding, paragliding, skydiving, and parasailing!
Family fun in Lake Chelan
Fun is right around the corner! Enjoy a bird’s eye view of the valley thanks to Lake Chelan Helicopters and Lake Chelan Sea Planes. Head back to the ground for bowling at Chelan Lanes or golfing at Desert Canyon Resort. Kids will love to tube, float the lazy river, and rush down corkscrew water slides at Slide Waters. Whether at the arcade or beach, there’s adventure and fun for every age in the valley.
Ferry to Stehekin, WA
Most visitors agree the can't-miss attraction in Lake Chelan is taking a day trip on the historic ferry Lady of the Lake to the tiny town of Stehekin. Located on the northern end of upper Lake Chelan, the quaint town is only accessible by boat, plane, or foot, and is surrounded by the beautiful Lake Chelan National Recreation Area.
Spend the day riding horses at Cascade Corrals, fly fishing with Stehekin Fishing Adventures, or rent a bicycle with Discovery Bikes, which offer guided tours to Rainbow Falls and more. Whether you’re biting into a scone from the famed Stehekin Pastry Co. or kayaking to view native pictographs with Stehekin Valley Ranch, this charming community offers fun and adventure for the whole family!
You can truly choose your own adventure in a Lake Chelan vacation rental. Book now, so you can start planning the fun!
Lake Chelan travel inspiration
Top 10 Most Beautiful Lakes in the U.S.
Splurge vs. Steal: 5 Cabin Getaways for Every Budget
7 States for the Best Secluded Lake House Rentals
8 Can’t-Miss Things to Do Around Lake Chelan in the Summer