Plan A Weekend Getaway From Seattle To The Stehekin Valley

Explore the fjord-like waters of Lake Chelan.

If you're looking for an adventurous weekend away from the bustle of Seattle, look no further than the Stehekin Valley. Remote yet accessible, this destination will rejuvenate your spirit and awaken your sense of exploration.

Here's how to make the most of a long weekend in the Stehekin Valley.

Friday Morning

Drive the quick three hours from downtown Seattle to the small town of Chelan, Washington. Hop aboard the Lady of the Lake II or the Lady Express, which are the shuttle boats that ply the waters of fjord-like Lake Chelan. 

Depending on the season and the ferry route, it'll take between 2.5 and 4 hours for you to reach Stehekin, on the northern tip of the lake. The lake is surrounded by mountains that top 9,000 feet, so enjoy the views as you ride, and let your cares dissolve.

Friday Afternoon

When you arrive at Stehekin, check into The North Cascades Lodge at Stehekin, a 27-room rustic lodge right on the shores of Lake Chelan. If you have a larger group, there's also a fully furnished lake house that sleeps 12 and has a deck with a barbecue grill and a hot tub. Some rooms are pet-friendly, so your furry friend is welcome, too!

Once you're settled in, head to the Lodge at Stehekin restaurant for a tasty lunch of fish and chips, or a Boat House Club sandwich.

After lunch, stretch your legs with a hike on the Lakeshore Trail, which leaves right from the Lodge. The trail itself is 17 miles long, so you can walk for as long as you like before turning around and heading back to your rooms.

Friday Evening

Make your way to the Lodge at Stehekin's restaurant for dinner (open seasonally) or, if you snagged a room with a kitchen, make dinner yourself. 

Sit outside, a glass of wine in hand, and enjoy the colors of sunset over the lake. Being disconnected from the world doesn't feel so bad, does it?

Saturday Morning

Photo by Scott Kranz // Hike to Agnes Gorge in Stehekin Valley

You won't find many cars at Stehekin, but you will find The Red Bus (available seasonally), an easily-spotted shuttle that provides scenic tours to Rainbow Falls and delivers hikers to and from the High Bridge trailhead. 

Hop on the bus and enjoy the scenery as you make your way to High Bridge. From there, hike the 5-mile roundtrip trail to Agnes Gorge, which features a pristine, cascading waters and ends at a spectacular gorge. Don't forget to pack lunch, as you won't arrive back to the Lodge at Stehekin until later in the afternoon.

Saturday Afternoon

You may want to while away the afternoon with a good book and a hot tea, but if you're still feeling active, rent a kayak from the Lodge at Stehekin and slip it into the calm waters of Lake Chelan. 

Paddle past ancient Native American rock art along the shore and explore the upper estuary, keeping an eye out for birds, fish, and animals. Winds aren't uncommon on Lake Chelan, but late afternoon is usually the calmest time to ply the waters.

Saturday Evening

Grab a bite to eat at the Lodge's restaurant, then enjoy the company of your companions before checking out the dark night sky. 

Stehekin's remote location means that light pollution is minimal, and on a clear night, the stars will blaze to life overhead. 

Sunday Morning

Photo by Maurice King

The ferries leave in the early afternoon, so grab a spot on The Red Bus in the morning for a 50-minute scenic Rainbow Falls Tour. A ranger narrates the journey, which cumulates at the beauty of 312-foot Rainbow Falls. 

Back at the Lodge, grab your luggage and board the ferry for the ride back to your car. Enjoy those last moments of peace before your phone dips back into cell coverage.

For a limited time, celebrate 2020 and the winter opening of the Lodge with 20% off your accommodation and 20% off one lunch. 

Cover photo by Nathan Wall
Unless other noted, photos courtesy of the Lodge at Stehekin

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Sara SheehyAdmin

Writer | Nomad