A little background
Lake Chelan is considered one of the world’s great lakes, due to its beauty, setting and ecological wonders. This glacier-fed, deep-water lake is 55 miles long, stretching from the community of Stehekin deep in the North Cascades to the communities of Chelan and Manson nestled in the foothills of Central Washington. It is an exceptionally clean lake and one that draws visitors year-round. During the summer and fall, the lake’s temperature on its east end warms considerably, attracting swimmers and boaters and many families.
Chelan and Manson are the two towns at the lower end of the lake. Both have stunning views of the Cascades looking west. The communities cater to tourists as well as the fruit industry, including the region’s explosion of wineries. Apple trees cover many of the hillsides in the area, but scattered among those are vineyards and wineries and tasting rooms.
Recreation is big. Besides swimming and boating, residents and visitors enjoy running, biking and hiking during the spring, summer and fall, and cross-country and alpine skiing during the winter. There are three golf courses in the area — Bear Mountain, Desert Canyon, Lake Chelan and Alta Lake. The Chelanman multisport weekend focusing on triathlons in July is another big draw.
Lake Chelan also is home to many second residences and vacation homes. The population of the area numbers about 10,000 year-round residents and a few thousand more part-time residents. The lower lake area has hundreds of hotel rooms, homes and condos for rent.
Central Washington, with its location on the east slopes of the Cascades, gets more than 300 days of sunshine a year. High temperatures during July and August often climb into the 90s. By September and early fall, those temperatures drop into the 60s and 70s.
Here is how The Seattle Times recently described the place known as Chelan:
The town of about 4,000, at the east end of Lake Chelan, is dotted with comfortable, waterfront condos and hotels, sandy beaches and tree-shaded parks.
Chelan’s old-fashioned downtown is small-scale, easygoing and lovingly preserved; there’s even a 19th-century log church. Cafes and shops line several blocks of Woodin Avenue, the main downtown street.
Beyond water play, there’s miniature golf or real golf. Or frolic on the slides and pools of Slidewaters water park. Enjoy a walk or an outdoor concert at Riverfront Park in the heart of town, or fish for trout from its little dock right next to the private beach of Campbell’s Resort. The water is so clear you can see the trout you’re trying to catch, 20 feet down.
More action? Take to the hills around Lake Chelan to hike or bike. Take a day-trip by boat to the wilderness end of the 55-mile-long lake, to the isolated backwoods community of Stehekin. Or rent a boat and explore the lake on your own.