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Disconnect in the Stehekin Valley

Off-the-beaten-path only begins to describe Stehekin, Washington.

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

Life moves a little bit slower in Stehekin, a small town on the northern tip of 50-mile Lake Chelan. Accessible only by boat, or via a 23-mile hike from Washington's Route 20, visiting Stehekin is something you have to want to do.

And trust us, you want to do it.

With over 150 miles of trail in the Stehekin Valley, some of which connect the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area to North Cascades National Park, you'll never get bored of exploring. And if you want to mix it up, there is plenty of paddling, biking, fishing, and relaxing to be found on fjord-like Lake Chelan.

Make your home at the North Cascades Lodge at Stehekin, which welcomes everyone with pet-friendly rooms, kitchen-equipped cabins, a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a food and supply store, and a lake house that can sleep up to twelve people...all right on the shores of Lake Chelan.

Did we mention the ferry stop in the town of Chelan is only three hours from Seattle? Book your room, snag your ferry reservation, and pack your hiking shoes and fishing pole...it's time to head out to the remote beauty of the Stehekin Valley. 

Ride the Red Bus to Rainbow Falls

You may not be able to drive to Stehekin, but you won't be stuck with just your own two feet once you arrive. The "Red Bus" is a shuttle that brings guests on a 50-minute ride to 312-foot tall Rainbow Falls, or on a two-hour scenic tour of this remote corner of the North Cascades.

The bus runs right to the North Cascades Lodge at Stehekin...you can't miss it.

Kayak Along the Shores of Lake Chelan

When you're staying on the water, there's no better way to explore than by boat and paddle, right?  Paddle on Lake Chelan's quiet upper estuary, or float past ancient Native American artwork drawn on rocks along the shore. With 50 miles of lake to play on, your arms will probably give out before you're done exploring.

Stop by the front desk at the Lodge for canoe and kayak rentals.

Hike High and Low

The Lodge at Stehekin puts you right in the middle of all the action when it comes to exploring the North Cascades by foot. Follow the 17-mile Lakeshore Trail for as long as you'd like before turning back—the first four miles to Flick Creek are easy going.

For those who want to get into some elevation, make an early start up 8,149-foot McGregor Peak. At the top, you'll be rewarded with a panoramic view from the site of an old fire tower.

Cast a Line in the Cascades

The Stehekin Watershed is a fisherman or woman's dream. 150 miles of trail cross the watershed, leading to alpine lakes, streams, and along the shores of Lake Chelan. You're so far from the mainstream here that you won't have to see another fisherperson unless you choose to.

If you are looking for a little company, or want to know the best place to cast a line, guide services are available.

Other adventures around the Lodge at Stehekin include backpacking, biking, horseback riding, and—perhaps our favorite—relaxing on the lakeshore, feeling like the world is yours.

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!

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