Exploring northern Lake Chelan

Ever since my first visit to Stehekin (the town on the north end of Lake Chelan), I’ve been wanting to explore the remote campsites along the lake. Luckily, I have family members who own boats, and said family members sometimes take us out on their boats.

Back in May, we took a quick weekend trip over to Chelan. One day, we explored the entire lake by boat. We launched the boat in the town of Chelan, and we drove it all the way up to Stehekin.

Along the way, we stopped at a few of the remote campgrounds. There were not any campers yet, so we had the places to ourselves.

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Safety Harbor campground

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Prince Creek campground

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The final stop for the day was Stehekin. We had a delicious lunch at the lodge. Unfortunately, the Stehekin Pastry Company was still closed for the season.

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Lake Chelan is probably my favorite lake in the state. I love how beautiful it gets as you travel north. I’d like to camp at one of the many northern campgrounds sometime.  Below is a list of the campgrounds in the national park.


For more information on camping at Lake Chelan, go to the national park service website here.

Stehekin, Washington

Stehekin is a remote community on the top of Lake Chelan. It is only accessible by boat, plane, or by hiking over Cascade Pass. There are 22 miles of roads around Stehekin, but there is no road that leads to the area. Most of the visitors get to the town by taking the Lady of the Lake ferry-boat. It’s about a 3 hour journey from the town of Chelan. One weekend, we took the boat up to Moore Point, and we hiked 7 miles into Stehekin.

Upon arriving into Stehekin, we stopped at the Golden West Visitor Center to get a camping site. The campsites are free, but you have to get a permit. The Golden West Visitor Center is located in a former hotel, and it was a really pretty  building.

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We camped at the Purple Point Campground. There are 6 sites, with a flush toilet nearby. There’s really nothing special about it, but it is really close to the landing and the main part of town.

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After getting our campsite all set-up, we ate dinner at the Stehekin Lodge restaurant (We really know how to rough it). The next morning, we rented bikes and road up the road into the Stehekin Valley.  We rode all the way up the hill to the Harlequin Campground. It’s four miles up the road, and it’s located on the Stehekin River.

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On the way back from the campground, we stopped at a few of the tourist destinations. This was the beautiful Bucknar Orchard.


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The next stop was the Rainbow Falls. The mist off of these falls was so powerful, that I could barely get a picture without getting my camera wet. The mist was also very cold.

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The last stop on our bike ride was the Stehekin Pastery Company for some yummy baked treats and coffee. This is two miles up from the landing, and definitely worth a stop.

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I really enjoyed my quick visit to Stehekin. It’s a really unique town in Washington. I’d definitely recommend that a visitor stay overnight. You can see so much more than if you just stopped for a few hours and got back on the ferry. The park services has a shuttle during the summer that will take you all the way up the valley. That will make it easier to get around to all the sites.

More information:

NPS – Stehekin Information 

NPS –  Stehekin Valley Map