If you haven’t been to Stehekin, it is about time to plan a visit! You’ll fall in love with this secluded village where you can unplug, escape the buzz of everyday life, and take in the beauty from the head of Lake Chelan and the surrounding Cascade Mountains.
Considered one of the most remote places in the lower 48 states, Stehekin is only accessible by boat, air or hiking in from a variety of directions. The most popular way for visitors to travel to Stehekin is by ferry boat through The Lady of the Lake. They have a fleet of 3 boats that travel up the lake, but the itinerary you choose depends on your desired length of stay.
The Lady of The Lake recently started a combo trip with their catamaran, The Lady Cat, which provides a longer layover for visitors to experience Stehekin. This combo trip, called The Liberty, departs Chelan at 8:00am and arrives in Stehekin at 9:30 am. The return trip departs at 3:30pm and arrives in Chelan at 5:00pm. Check out other combo trips to see which itinerary is the best fit for you. To get the most of your Stehekin experience, overnight visits are a great option as well.
There are a variety of wonderful lodging choices for your overnight stay in Stehekin. North Cascades Lodge provides comfort and convenience at its best. Located directly across from the boat dock, they provide cabins with kitchens, standard units, view rooms or even the standalone Lakehouse-great for families and groups.
The Stehekin Valley Ranch is found 9 miles “up valley” from the head of Lake Chelan. Accommodations include tent cabins, ranch cabins and wagons. The Ranch offers a variety of unique vacation experiences and meals and transportation to/from the landing are included with all accommodations.
From lakeside campsites to roadside camps and backpacking sites, Stehekin offers a wide range of camping options as well. Most camps require a free backcountry permit, available from the Golden West Visitor Center in Stehekin (509.699.2080, ext. 14).
What To Do
Visitors can stay as busy as they choose to be while in Stehekin. Biking is a popular way to see the sights and you will find all the main roads in Stehekin are incredibly bike friendly. Bike rentals are available through Stehekin Discovery Bikes and from there, you can tour many points of interest including Stehekin’s One Room Schoolhouse, Rainbow Falls and the Historic Buckner Orchard.
For those who seek scenic views, being on the water provides a breathtaking perspective of Stehekin and the Cascade Mountains. Kayaking and paddleboards are available for guests at the Silver Bay Inn Resort, while the Lodge at Stehekin rents out kayaks and canoes. Offered every morning, mid-June through mid-September, the guided kayak tour takes you on a scenic paddle over old Stehekin and the site of the “Field Hotel” as you travel on to see the native pictographs along the western lakeshore. For more information on guided kayak tours, contact Stehekin Valley Ranch.
The Stehekin area also provides some wonderful hiking and backpacking trails for hikers of all skill levels. Trails range from short one-mile hikes to major treks including the Pacific Crest Trail which extends from Canada to Mexico. Free backcountry permits are needed for overnight stays at all North Cascades National Park Service Complex camps and they are available at ranger stations on a first-come first-serve basis up to a day in advance. Boat-in camps do not require a backcountry permit but do require a $5/day or $40/season (May 1 to October 1) Lake Chelan Federal Dock Site permit for boats.
Where To Eat
Despite being incredibly remote and isolated, Stehekin eateries know how to serve up some delicious food. A Stehekin trip is not complete without a visit to The Stehekin Pastry Company. Known for their world-famous cinnamon rolls as big as your head, the Bakery also serves up a variety of treats including gluten-free options. Swing by for breakfast and sip on some fresh coffee paired with filled croissants and quiche or drop in for lunch and treat yourself to soup, salad and sandwich specials along with hot pizza and chicken pockets.
Another great dining option is The Lodge Restaurant, serving tasty meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a beautiful view of Lake Chelan. The dining room is the only full-service restaurant in Stehekin and is open seasonally May 12-October 15. The Lodge is also open for lunch in the offseason on the days the Lady of the Lake boat arrives.
The Stehekin Valley Ranch provides dinner for both their overnight guests and folks staying elsewhere. Their homecooked meals are a Stehekin highlight for many—just be sure to make a reservation in advance. The Ranch also provides a shuttle bus to take you to and from dinner for your convenience.
Whether you’ve chosen a day trip up-lake or a weekend getaway, you’ll find much joy from unplugging and exploring one of the most remote places in the Pacific Northwest.
Find more information about Lake Chelan and Stehekin here.