Outdoor Fun at Lake Chelan

Washington State's largest natural lake overflows with opportunities for outdoor adventure.

Lake Chelan in north-central Washington is a 50-mile-long lake cradled by cloud-catching, 8,000-foot-tall peaks. 

Kayakers, windsurfers, and anglers all comb Chelan’s sparkling, glacial-fed waters for thrills, while young visitors often make a splash at Slide Waters Water Park.

Along the lake’s piney shores, mountain bikers and hikers explore trails beneath Chelan Butte. At 3,800 feet tall, the monolithic rock provides unparalleled views of the Cascades and serves as a launchpad for high-flying hang gliders. Nordic skiers can also enjoy Chelan’s lofty heights; nearby Echo Ridge, rising some 3,000 feet, features more than 25 miles of cross-country trails to glide on.

In need of refinement? Chelan’s charming downtown is packed with quaint cafés. And as the state’s newest American Viticultural Area, the surrounding region now claims more than a dozen wineries.

Also trip-worthy: A ride on the Lady of the Lake tour boat to the town of Stehekin at the lake’s northern tip. Surrounded by towering, glacial-capped peaks, the community has just 100 year-round residents and is accessible only by foot, horseback, boat or floatplane. On second thought, you might want to keep this tucked-away gem to yourself.

—Craig Romano

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