Wine and Water Sports Around Lake Chelan

Nestled near the North Cascades National Park and its namesake lake is the small town of Chelan, home to everything from recreation to oenological adventures.

With more than 15 wineries and 260 acres of vineyards spread across the valley, Chelan makes for an easy wine-tasting weekend. Vin du Lac, on the north side of the lake, has a lovely lake-view patio where you can enjoy French bistro fare in warm weather; Benson Vineyards, in Manson, is the only 100 percent estate winery in the area; and Nefarious and Tsillan Cellars—both perched on the hills high above town—offer stunning lake views to accompany every pour.

Of course, Chelan’s main draw will always be the lake. As deep as 1,500 feet in its upper basin, Lake Chelan is a boater’s paradise. While it has water-skiers, Jet Skis, and big wakes—mostly concentrated at the lake’s eastern end—it also has miles of water ideal for canoeing and kayaking, and excellent swimming areas. Boat-in campgrounds along the upper basin can be reached by paddle or by the Lady of the Lake II, a ferry that makes daily four-hour trips to the tiny town of Stehekin, May through mid-October.

Established in 1880, Stehekin has no roads leading to it: The only ways in and out are by boat, foot or seaplane. The town, with its bakery, river rafting, fly-fishing and waterfront resort and restaurant, is a welcome stop for backpackers completing the Pacific Crest Trail and Chelan visitors alike.

—Giselle Smith