Discover Lake Chelan

Lake Chelan, nestled in the scenic landscape of Washington State, stands as a jewel of natural beauty and a hub of endless vacation possibilities. Measuring 50 miles long, it’s one of the largest natural lakes in Washington and captivates visitors with its deep, crystal-clear waters and breathtaking mountainous backdrop.

Surrounded by the rugged charm of the North Cascades, Lake Chelan is the perfect place to spend your afternoons hiking and evenings relaxing at the lakeside. Plus, as it’s in the heart of wine country, you can enjoy long afternoons sipping wine at local vineyards.

Whether you’re seeking relaxation by the serene lake, an adrenaline rush from water-based activities, or exploring its surrounding natural wonders, Lake Chelan is the perfect destination. All that’s left to do is book your vacation rental!


Top 3 Facts About Lake Chelan


A Golden History

Lake Chelan was once the epicenter of gold production in Washington State, with the Holden Mine near Holden Village leading as the largest producer of gold, silver, and copper from 1938 until its closure in 1957. Over its active years, this mine extracted more than 514,000 ounces of gold.


Deeper Than You Think

Lake Chelan holds the remarkable distinction of being the third deepest lake in the United States, with a maximum depth exceeding 1,400 feet. To put this in perspective, the lake extends over 300 feet below sea level at its deepest point, making it deeper than the average depth of the Grand Canyon if it were void of water.


Vineyards of the Valley

The Lake Chelan Valley, a paradise for wine lovers, is home to over 300 acres of vineyards and over 30 wineries. Wine cultivation in the valley began over a century ago, but it wasn’t until 2000 that the first commercial winery was established, marking the start of a flourishing wine industry in the region.

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Must-See Attractions

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For a refreshing and thrilling experience, head to Slidewaters—one of the top-rated waterparks in the United States. This waterpark offers a variety of waterslides, a relaxing lazy river, and a dedicated play area for younger children, making it an ideal destination for cooling off on a hot day. Open daily from 10 am to 7 pm, the park welcomes visitors from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend and promises a full day of aquatic adventure for all ages.

Tsillan Cellars Winery


Nestled in the heart of the Chelan Valley, Tsillan Cellars Winery beckons wine enthusiasts with its promise of award-winning wines and breathtaking views. Visitors are invited to indulge in a wine-tasting experience in the elegant tasting room or relax on the patio, savoring a glass or bottle of fine wine while overlooking the serene lake and lush vineyards.

Siren Song Vineyard Estate and Winery


At the Siren Song Vineyard Estate and Winery, delve into a perfect blend of European-inspired wine and food pairings set against the enchanting backdrop of Lake Chelan. In addition to superb wine, the winery hosts live music events, weddings, and even cooking classes, ensuring every visit is memorable and unique.

Annual Events and Festivals

May 16-19, 2024

Lake Chelan Wine and Jazz Festival

Delight in a blend of fine wines and jazz music at the annual Lake Chelan Wine and Jazz Festival. This event brings together internationally acclaimed artists and bands, performing across genres like funk, R&B, Latin jazz, and more at award-winning wineries and historic venues in Lake Chelan. In addition, delve into the region’s flavors by visiting the many local food vendors on site.

July 5 – 13, 2024

Lake Chelan Bach Fest

Spanning nine days, the Lake Chelan Bach Fest offers an exciting music celebration, interactive children’s programs, winery concerts, and a delightful ‘Pops in the Park’ experience. With all events free of charge, it’s an opportunity to enjoy world-class music, sip local wine, and savor the views with your family and friends.


Lake Chelan Winter Festival

Held each year in January, the Lake Chelan Winter Festival features intricate ice sculptures, dazzling fireworks displays, an iconic ice bar, and various live music and entertainment across downtown Chelan and Manson. It’s the perfect way to get outside with your family and friends and celebrate the joys of winter in Washington’s stunning landscapes.

Top Hiking Trails

Chelan Butte Trail

1015 Gorge Rd, Chelan, WA 98816

This challenging trail offers a 7.4-mile round-trip journey with a 2,601-foot elevation gain. It’s a hike that will test your endurance but reward you with astonishing views of the Chelan mountain ranges and lake. Along the way, bird watchers can enjoy a variety of species, and the top of the trail is a popular spot for extreme sports like hang gliding and paragliding.

Bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and a leash for your dog, as pets are welcome but must be kept on a leash.

Beebe Springs Natural Area

408-406, WA-150, Chelan, WA 98816

For a more relaxed hiking experience, the Beebe Springs Natural Area Loop is a great choice. This 2-mile loop trail, located near Chelan on the Columbia River, is part of a 207-acre park featuring interpretive trails, a viewing blind, sculptures, and even a fishing pond for kids.

Along the trail, you’ll also discover a variety of wildflowers and stumble upon fantastic views of the Columbia River.

4th of July Trail

NF-7600, Leavenworth, WA 98826

Situated in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest just above Manson, this trail offers breathtaking views of Lake Chelan and the surrounding valley. The 2.8-mile trail is moderately challenging and can get steep in parts, but the stunning scenery makes it worthwhile.

Along the way, you’ll pass Antilon Lake, an excellent spot for fishing. Be prepared for little shade, and bring extra water, sunscreen, and sunglasses.

Best Golf Courses

Bear Mountain Ranch

1050 Bear Mountain Ranch Rd, Chelan, WA 98816

This golf course is renowned for its dramatic topography and visually stunning design. Offering striking views of Lake Chelan paired with challenging elevation changes, it provides an exciting and unique golfing experience.

The course even has extra-tall flags to aid in navigating its mountainous layout and a variety of hole designs that cater to all skill levels, making it an essential stop for any golf enthusiast visiting Central Washington.

Alta Lake Golf Resort

140 Alta Lake Rd, Pateros, WA 98846

This family-run resort started as a modest 9-hole course and has grown into a full-fledged 18-hole course, complete with hotel accommodations, suites, and RV stations.

Over the years, the Barth family’s personal touch has turned it into a cherished destination, where many guests have transitioned from annual visitors to full-time residents.

Lake Chelan Municipal Golf Course

1501 W Golf Course Dr, Chelan, WA 98816

Known for its stunning lake views and friendly atmosphere, Lake Chelan Municipal Golf Course is a favorite among golfers of all skill levels. The course features fun and challenging elevated tee boxes that provide incredible views of Lake Chelan and the surrounding mountains.

With well-maintained fairways, challenging greens, and a full-service restaurant, the Lake Chelan Golf Course is the perfect place to spend an afternoon savoring the beauty of Lake Chelan.​

Water Sports

Chelan Parasail & Watersports

Rentals & Parasailing

Experience the thrill of Lake Chelan from a unique perspective with Chelan Parasail & Watersports. They offer a variety of water activities, including boat and jet ski rentals, paddle-boarding, inner tubing, and the highlight, parasailing.

Soar high above the lake for a bird’s-eye view of the Cascade Mountains, the lush vineyards, and the bustling downtown areas of Chelan and Manson.

Chelan Water to Wine

Winery tour

Combine the beauty of Lake Chelan with the region’s renowned wineries through Chelan Water to Wine’s unique tour experience. This isn’t your typical wine tour; it’s a luxurious journey across the lake on a boat, interspersing wine tasting with stunning lake views.

A portion of the proceeds from each tour is donated to children’s charities in the region, adding a socially responsible element to your unforgettable experience.

Lake Shores Watercraft & Boat Rentals


At Lake Shores Watercraft & Boat Rentals, you can gather your friends for a day out on Lake Chelan, which has various watercraft options. Choose from Yamaha Waverunners, open-bow boats, or Sunchaser Tri-toon boats that can accommodate up to 13 people, perfect for family outings. The scenic 20-minute boat ride to downtown Manson from their South Shore location offers a unique and exciting way to explore the area, with easy access to Manson Bay Marina and downtown Manson.

Winter Activities

Cross-Country Skiing

Just a 30-minute drive from Manson, Echo Ridge Recreation Area is a haven for cross-country skiing enthusiasts. Offering affordable ski rentals and 25 miles of groomed trails that wind through picturesque hills and valleys, it’s a top destination for experiencing Washington’s winter beauty. The area’s standout trail, Nowhere to Hide, boasts stunning views of snow-covered mountains, and visitors might even enjoy a warm soup at a local yurt on select Sundays in January and February.

Snow Tubing

For a fun-filled family day, Echo Valley Ski Area is an ideal spot for snow tubing. Although small and more suited to beginners or children for skiing, this resort shines with its snow tubing hill.

With tube rentals included in the admission fee and no need for any special equipment apart from warm clothes, it’s a perfect way to enjoy the snowy landscape of Lake Chelan.

Winter Winery Hopping

Winter winery tours in the Lake Chelan area offer a cozy and intimate experience. Many local wineries create warm indoor settings to escape the chill, complete with seasonal bites to complement their wines. The quieter winter months mean a more personal and relaxed wine-tasting experience, perfect for warming up and unwinding.

Where to Eat

Sorrento’s Ristorante

$$$ • Italian

The Bistro at Lake Chelan

$$ – $$$ • French & American

Tin Lilly

$$ – $$$ • Upmarket American

Where to Shop

Lake Life Chelan

Gift Shop


Boutique Shop

Lake Chelan Cheese

Cheese Shop

Where to Sleep

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Tips on Renting a Vacation Home on Lake Chelan

Location Selection

Lake Chelan offers varied experiences depending on where you stay. The south shore, close to Chelan, is bustling with shops, restaurants, and a vibrant atmosphere, ideal for those who enjoy easy access to urban amenities. The more secluded north shore and the Manson area offer a quieter, more nature-centric experience with vineyards and scenic vistas. Choose based on your preference for activity and tranquility.

Seasonal Planning

Lake Chelan is a year-round destination, but the experience varies by season. Summer brings warm weather, which is ideal for water activities like boating and swimming, but also more tourists and potentially higher rental prices. Winter offers a quieter retreat with snow sports and winery tours. Spring and fall are great for avoiding crowds and enjoying milder weather, often with more affordable accommodation options.

Accommodation Type

Consider the type of rental that best fits your needs. Options range from waterfront properties offering direct lake access to more budget-friendly off-lake homes. Waterfront rentals are perfect for water sports enthusiasts but might be pricier. Off-lake rentals can provide a more secluded and often more affordable stay within easy reach of the lake’s attractions.

Activity Planning

Lake Chelan offers numerous activities, from wine tasting and hiking to water sports and winter skiing at nearby Echo Valley. Plan and book some activities in advance, especially during peak seasons, to ensure availability. Also, explore local events and festivals that coincide with your visit for a richer experience.

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Going Deeper on Lake Chelan: Formation & Geology

Going deeper into the history of Lake Chelan reveals a rich and layered past marked by geological transformations and cultural shifts. The lake, over 50 miles long and the largest, longest, and deepest in Washington, was formed over 10,000 years ago from a valley glacier. This glacial activity carved out the dramatic landscapes of the lake, which twists and turns through the Cascade Mountains all the way to the Columbia River, fed by various streams and the Stehekin River. The lake’s southeastern shores, now home to the historic town of Chelan, open up to rolling hills and beautiful fields, attracting visitors and settlers for generations​​.

The area around Lake Chelan has been inhabited for thousands of years, with early Native American tribes such as the Chelan, a group originating from the Wenatchi Tribe, living around the lake. These tribes were hunters and gatherers known for their travels and trade with neighboring tribes. The arrival of non-Indigenous settlers, including prospectors and farmers, in the late 19th century marked a significant change. Pursuits of logging, mining, and agriculture drove the establishment of the town of Chelan in the 1880s. By the late 19th century, Lake Chelan was part of the Moses Reservation, which protected the area from white settlement until it was rescinded, paving the way for establishing homesteads and towns.

The early 20th century saw the arrival of railroads and the growth of irrigation, which greatly influenced the region’s development, leading to its current status as a popular vacation destination and an area of significant agricultural productivity.

Frequently Asked Questions About Lake Chelan

Lake Chelan, a glacially carved marvel in Washington State, boasts impressive depths, reaching over 1,400 feet at its deepest point. This makes it one of the deepest lakes in the United States, with its depth varying significantly from north to south.

Visitors to Lake Chelan can enjoy a wide range of activities, from boating and water sports on the lake to hiking in the surrounding mountains. The area is also famous for its wineries, offering wine tasting and vineyard tours, and during winter, activities like cross-country skiing and snowmobiling become popular.

Yes, swimming is a popular activity in Lake Chelan during the warmer months. The lake’s clear and refreshing waters, public beaches, and designated swimming areas make it an ideal spot for swimmers and sunbathers.

Lake Chelan is unique due to its remarkable depth and length, glacially carved landscapes, and the diversity of activities it offers. The combination of natural beauty, outdoor recreation, and the thriving local wine industry creates a unique and varied experience for visitors.

Lake Chelan is an excellent destination for family vacations, offering activities that cater to all ages. Families can enjoy water activities, explore hiking trails, visit local orchards and wineries, and participate in various seasonal events and festivals.

Boat rentals are widely available on Lake Chelan, allowing visitors to explore the lake at their own pace. Options range from kayaks and paddleboards to motorboats and pontoons, suitable for different group sizes and preferences.

Muskoka is known for its picturesque towns and charming villages. Some popular towns you can visit include Bracebridge, Gravenhurst, Huntsville, and Port Carling. Each town offers its unique attractions, shops, and restaurants, making them perfect stopovers during your exploration of the Muskoka region.

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