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Stehekin, WA

A friend just sent me a wonderful book! The title is "Hiking Naked" and is about a family that needed a change and moved to Stehekin, WA. Stehekin is a very remote area and hard to truly describe, but so amazing. We have been there and absolutely love it, so it is even more enjoyable to read the book.

Posted by
3356 posts

We love going to Lake Chelan and every time I want to go to Stehekin, but for one reason or another ( last time we were there in 2020, and boat was not running), we have not gone yet. Guess I need another trip!

Posted by
3961 posts

mikliz97- Thank you for recommending this book! We’ve been to amazing Stehekin a couple of times. Once in our boat & another time taking the “Lady of the Lake” enjoying a leisurely, scenic view up lake! To your point of “very remote” I recall a story 2 years ago- Healthcare workers volunteered to bring COVID vaccine to the residents! What a wonderful service. Here is a recent story from our local TV station. Enjoy! https://www.king5.com/amp/article/entertainment/television/programs/evening/washingtons-most-isolated-town-may-also-be-its-friendliest-destination-remote/281-d31607b4-42a5-49e6-a146-551cda4affd2

Posted by
6788 posts

I was there last year, in early June -- right about this time, in fact. It's an interesting and unique place surrounded by beautiful country, for sure.

If anyone is thinking about going, I have a write-up from my visit last year that I can share. PM me for the link if interested.

Posted by
19169 posts

I lived in western Washington for 12 years (including all of the sixties) and saw a lot of places, mostly west of the Cascades. Lake Chelan, unfortunately was not one of them, although we did spent part of a day passing through the town of Chelan at Ohme Gardens. I also regret not spending time in Leavenworth.

Posted by
2237 posts

There is a second ferry company operating now, so one is not relegated to Lady of the Lake (Thankfully!!!). I will never take that one again as they managed to lose our luggage and then when they found it they wanted us to pay to have it shipped to us. Um, no, lol. The kicker was they wouldn't fess up to it and the owners wife brought it to us, but again would not fess up to who she was. I googled and saw they were the owners! But besides that, everything about Stehekin is wonderful!

I was with a friend this morning who is a writer and I was telling her about this book. Turns out she knows that author! Such a small world!

We were there in 2019, about 5 weeks post op knee surgery for me. I enjoyed the shorter 5 mile-ish hikes. My husband, son and his gf got lottery permits and backpacked out through Cascade Pass. So when I left, I drove around that way to pick them up.

The cabin we stayed at was wonderful, and the owner gave us a vehicle to use. That was so nice to not have to rely on the shuttle. I would absolutely love to go back in the winter, although The Garden would be missed!

Posted by
2237 posts

Tammy--Just book it!

Janis--I saw that story! Makes me really want to go back, NOW, lol!

David--We were there in July 2019. We refer to it as summer camp for adults;)

Lee--Then you just need to come back and visit;)

Posted by
1834 posts

I took a float plane to Stehekin a few years ago, and took the ferry back to Chelan. It's a good option if you're not staying overnight, since it's a long ferry ride to do round trip in one day.

Unfortunately it rained most of the day we were there, but it was still beautiful, and the bakery (https://stehekinpastry.com/stehekin-pastry-company/) made it all worthwhile.

Posted by
3961 posts

FYI for Stehekin Pastry fans- The River Walk Inn Cafe in Chelan gets their Cinnamon Rolls, etc from the Stehekin Pastry Co. We had breakfast at The River Walk last September.

@mikliz- I also heard about the faster boat to Stehekin. What a bonus!

Posted by
6788 posts

I took a float plane to Stehekin a few years ago, and took the ferry back to Chelan.

Sadly, the daily scheduled floatplane service that used to run between Chelan town and Stehekin is no longer running. ☹️

You could still fly in or out if you really want to, but it would require chartering a seaplane (closest one is probably Seattle Seaplanes on Lake Union -- not cheap, though you would certainly get spectacular views crossing the mountains and it would get you there quickly from downtown Seattle!). There is also a state-owned "back-country" airstrip (grass, a bit short, a bit rough) about a mile up the road from downtown Stehekin, which is open to the public during summers (you'll need your own small plane or arrange someone to fly you in/out).

About the ferries...there are indeed now two companies that run ferries from Chelan to Stehekin:
- The Chelan Boat Company - The traditional operation that has been running ferries to Stehekin for many years, boats include the old (slow) Lady of the Lake. They have multiple boats, some slow, some fast, some "half-fast". Their schedule varies seasonally, but during summer season offers multiple options on most days.
- Stehekin Ferry Company - A newer operation that runs just one boat, but promises year-round service.

For most folks, one of the ferries from Chelan makes most sense unless you have money to burn (or your own backcountry-capable plane, which is a great way to burn money...). Or you could hike over the Cascades if you're fit, experienced, and prepared. I took the "Lady Express"  (half-fast boat) from Chelan. It took a couple hours but it's perfectly comfortable, the scenery from the boat is lovely, and the time went quickly.

Contrary to the absurd claim made in the KING TV clip linked above (they say there's plenty of hotel rooms -- NO there ain't!), accommodations are extremely limited -- this, I think, more than the town's isolation, is the limiting factor on tourism. There are just not a whole lot of places to sleep there (other than camping). Anyone thinking about going should plan well in advance. As an example, in early May of 2021 when we started looking for a place to stay a few nights, every single bed in/near Stehekin was booked up solid from mid-June through the end of the year. We were lucky to grab a place for 3 nights in early June (tent camping was another option, but we wanted someplace more substantial). Tourist infrastructure and services are limited.