Ready for a break from the stresses of city life? Plan a trip to Lake Chelan in north-central Washington, in the heart of the North Cascades. An easy three- to four-hour drive from the eastside (Lake Washington), the Chelan area has over 300 days of sunshine and offers a multitude of recreational activities.
Formed over 12,000 years ago, crystal-clear Lake Chelan is a narrow 50.5-mile-long, glacier-fed lake, anchored at the south end by the town of Chelan, with the hamlet of Stehekin at the north end, and the small village of Manson just 7 miles from downtown Chelan. With its small-town charm, incredible natural beauty, and wide range of activities, Lake Chelan is a wonderful year-round destination for those seeking adventures and experiences.
Lake Chelan has been a favorite summertime destination for families and friends alike. A boater’s paradise: When you are ready for fun adventures on the water, enjoy water skiing, canoeing, paddleboarding, tubing, kayaking … bring your own equipment, or rent from one of the many suppliers located around the lake. For the golfer, Lake Chelan is the dream destination in the summer, with eight courses within a short driving distance offering a variety of challenges – and some exceptional lake views. With so many other outdoor activities to choose from – hiking and biking on the nearby trails, swimming, parasailing, paragliding, activities in local parks including tennis, pickleball, hoops, and skateboarding – Lake Chelan has it all.
Find fresh local produce and live entertainment during the warm summer days every Thursday at the Evening Farmers' Market, and performances at Riverwalk Park at the Music in the Park Summer Concert Series.
The Lake Chelan area is home to almost 40 wineries, many hugging the shores of the lake and offering fabulous panoramic views. Stroll through the vineyards, enjoy a fascinating wine tasting experience, sample distinctive wines from your choice of winemaker. Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Syrah are the most planted vines, but there are over two dozen varieties thriving in the area – this will be some of the best wine you have ever tasted!
As temperatures start to go down, there is something almost magical about the fall! Gorgeous, colorful foliage enhances the endless 360-degree lake panoramas, and it’s the perfect time and place to breathe in some fresh air and enjoy the outdoors. It’s still hiking, biking, fishing, and golfing season stretching well into October.
Take a stroll along the paved one-mile scenic river loop trail at Riverwalk Park. Or visit the Lake Chelan State Park for some bird watching, where during the fall months you might glimpse thrushes, nuthatches, or woodpeckers. Prefer to view the area’s natural beauty from your car? Enjoy the South Lakeshore Road scenic drive, or the Manson Scenic route.
During the annual Lake Chelan Harvest Festival in early October, join the harvest and even "stomp" grapes in the age-old tradition. Harvest Festival runs from October 1 until Thanksgiving, and visitors can experience the beauty and bounty of the season’s food and wine.
In late November, temperatures may drop to the 40s and 50s, with the possibility of some rain and a sprinkle of snow in the lower elevations. As winter draws in, Lake Chelan becomes a dazzling, snow-covered wonderland! Snow is guaranteed – with January as the "snowiest" month with an average of 7 inches.
Trails and hills are relatively quiet for skiing, sledding, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. The Echo Valley Ski and Tubing area, located 10 miles from downtown Chelan, has 70 acres and 900 vertical feet of ski and snowboard runs to suit beginners through advanced skiers. The six-lane tubing hill will thrill the kids! For cross-country skiing, visit Echo Ridge Nordic Ski Area for 25 miles of well-maintained terrain, or snowshoe on the 3.9K trail loop system. Equally exciting are the 170 miles of well-marked, groomed trails for snowmobiling.
Get into the holiday spirit with Small Town Holidays the day after Thanksgiving! Local stores and boutiques are decorated for the season, and carolers stroll the charming streets. The day ends with Santa’s arrival, tree lighting in the town center, and stunning fireworks. Or experience the wonder of Lake Chelan in the winter at "Lake Chelan Winterfest," a community favorite for nearly 30 years. Across two weekends in January, enjoy local wineries, breweries, and cideries, view intricate ice sculptures, join the Polar Bear Splash, admire a massive bonfire, and watch the incredible fireworks displays. And in February, bring your loved one to celebrate the "month of love," with local wineries offering artisan wine and chocolate pairings, all month long.
Beat the summer heat – and crowds! – with a springtime getaway. With average daytime temperatures in the 60s and sunny skies, it’s a perfect time to visit and enjoy the outdoors. With the early spring thaw, walk or bike the family-friendly trails at Echo Ridge, or, for the more adventurous, try the single-track trails.
Lake Chelan is a world-class fishing destination and offers fishing year-round (check with the Department of Fish and Wildlife for requirements and limits). Stocking programs release 100,000 Cutthroat and 500,000 Kokanee fingerlings into the lake each year, and the largest species of fish found in the lake are Chinook (King) Salmon and Lake Trout (Mackinaw). While a typical catch ranges from six to 10 pounds, a 20-pound catch is not unusual!
March is WA Wine Month, and the local wineries celebrate with "Taste Chelan." Winegrowers hand-select their most exciting wines, which are paired and curated with food from local restaurants, chefs, and culinary artisans. In April and May celebrate Bloom in Lake Chelan and experience the beauty, vigor, revitalization, growth, and excitement during the spring season.
Whether you are planning a family vacation, a girls' weekend, a romantic interlude, or even a "babymoon" – Lake Chelan has something wonderful to offer to every visitor, whatever their age or interests. With four seasons of natural beauty, sun, breathtaking views of nature, and so many events and activities – Lake Chelan is the perfect vacation destination at any time of year!
For more information go to: lakechelan.com.