North Cascades Place Spotlight 2: Lake Chelan National Recreation Area


Lake Chelan National Recreation Area is one of the most visited places in North Cascades region. The place is located 56 kilometres south of US-Canada border in Chelan county, Washington. The area comprises of 61,958 acres of land and situated adjacent to North Cascades National Park. National Park Service rangers manage the area as a part of North Cascades National Park Service Complex.

Lake Chelan itself is the main attraction in the area. Chiclean Butte, Stehkin Valley and Stehkin river in the area are pleasant places to explore. In the past the area was part of traditional hunting, fishing and gathering lands of several native American tribes beside the Chelan Indians. Lake Chelan has a depth of 1500 feet and blue water, and offer fishing, boating and lack shore camping. It is interesting to note that the average width of the lack is just 2 miles but extends to 50 miles in the Cascade Mountains.

Lake Chelan is fed at northwestern end by Stehekin river. On the southwestern end, its outlet is impounded by a low dam near the town of Chelan. Lake Chelan with a deep of around 1500 feet is third deepest lake in United States. There are many beautiful mountains around and you will be astounded by change in scenery at each turn of the lake. The small yet beautiful town Chelan is like crown jewel of the beautiful blue water roof the lake.

The nearest major town is Sedro-Woolly but camping and lodging facilities are available in the recreation are itself. The southwester end of the lake has many vacation homes and densely populated with visitors. Unlike other places in North Cascades region, there are plenty of eateries and shops are around. If you have time explore the nearby Rainbow falls. There are also water falls and wild life like big horn ships in the area.

There are no roads that connect directly  to Lake Chelan NRA. The recreation area and Stehiken,  a small town located within the park, are accessible only by floatplanes passenger vehicles from the southern end of Lake near the town of Chelan.  You can also reach the area by hiking trails through the Cascade range during the summer. At  the time of summer, an off-road bus service carries weary hikers to the town from the Pacific Crest trail.

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