Lake Chelan

Is Lake Chelan a good place to sail? You bet. At 55 miles long the lake is really a series of areas, each with it’s own distinct conditions. The lower lake, near town almost always has a drainage breeze but also has the most boat traffic. The area near the State Park and Wapato Point is not very good with either no wind or erratic canyon winds out of First Creek. The run from the Yacht Club to 25 Mile Creek is the best with stable winds averaging about 12 knots down lake. From 25 Mile Creek to Stehekin you find yourself in beautiful fjord-like country with steep tree covered hillsides and waterfalls.

Lake Chelan has been traveled for many years, A native traveler left this record of a successful hunt long ago at the painted rocks in Stehekin.

The roughest water is often found between Safety Harbor and Twin Harbor where steep waves can slow forward motion and an outboard kicker may be pushing air half the time.

Twin Harbor to Domke Falls is often windless, then strong down lake wind is often experienced from Domke to Moore Point and from Moore Point to Stehekin.

Forest Service boat in campgrounds are wonderful places to spend a weekend or a week. A trip up to Holden Village offers an experience you will not duplicate anywhere in the world and Stehekin at the Head of the lake is an entry to the Glacier Peak Wilderness and a National Park.

Be Prepared! Lake Chelan, especially in the upper reaches can experience high winds and rapidly changing conditions.

Be ready to reef your sails and to duck in to one of the few protected docks.

Cell phone coverage ends at 25 mile creek so carry a marine VHF.

Fuel (gas only, no diesel) can only be obtained at Stehekin once you are past 25 mile creek as well so check your supply before departure.

Water depths are not a hazard in most locations if you are more than 50′ offshore. Some exceptions include Wapato Point to Mill Bay during spring low water and an unmarked rock in front of the Boat Club just down lake from the Mill Bay launch. Past 25 mile creek the water can be several hundred feet deep just a few yards from shore.

Launch Ramps – Starting at the foot of the lake and heading up (West)

Chelan River PUD Ramp – Good ramp with a good depth angle and good parking. It is useless for sailboats due to the bridges between the ramp and the lake. End of ramp elevation is 1080.5′

Don Morse Park – The City Park. A Decent launch ramp but the angle is somewhat shallow for deep keel boats. Parking can be difficult and you will have to pay for launching, vehicle parking and trailer parking. Best is if you can shuttle your car and trailer to the High School Parking lot for free parking. Moorage here is o.k. if the weather isn’t bad, otherwise the breakwater doesn’t break water very well so the water can be active inside the marina. This launch is only useable when the water level is about 1095, end of ramp elevation is 1090′.

Lakeside Park – Only open for launching from Mid September to Mid May. It’s only good for small boats and only if the wind isn’t blasting down lake into the launch.

Mill Bay – Three good ramps. Watch the trees (why do the morons who design parks put trees in launch areas?) Lots of parking. Be careful of the rocks just down lake of the ramp during low water. O.K. for launching with 1087′ or higher water elevation. End of ramp elevation is 1082.9′. Good pump out.

Manson Bay – Only open in the fall through spring. This is the best angled launch on the lake. The approach and staging area is somewhat hard to negotiate but the deep water and steeper angle make this a good sailboat launch. Best winter launch ramp. Pump out. End of ramp elevation is 1077.9′.

First Creek State Park – Good angle launch, lousy set up area and parking, you will have to disconnect the trailer from the tow vehicle for parking and the ramp is very narrow with sharp drop off on either side. Launch needs about 1095′ water elevation to be usable. End of ramp elevation is 1090′.

Fields Point State Park – Parking and picnic only. This is a popular place to catch the Lady of the Lake to Lucerne and Stehekin. Boat facilities are limited to a pump out, the dock is for the Lady only. No launch ramp or public dock and the pump out usually doesn’t work.

25 mile creek State Park – This ramp is only good during high water (late June to mid Sept) It offers great access to up lake destinations but the marina is only good for 24′ or less boats and fairly shallow drafts. Fuel is available here too. End of ramp elevation is 1093′.

Best up lake destinations, campgrounds and public docks- Remember to get your USFS dock pass for USFS, State Park and National Park dock use – Click on the photos for larger images.

Public Dock at the “Old Bridge” – At the foot of the lake, this is as far as you can go with the mast up. Be wary of the current flowing toward the bridge, it can be strong in the spring. Room for about six boats, good access to downtown shops and restaurants. No overnight docking, direct exposure to down lake winds.

Don Morse Park – The City Marina offers multiple transient moorage sites and short term docking. Pump out, shore power and water available. Restrooms but no showers. Very busy on summer weekends. The site is dry during low water periods of early spring. Operated by the City of Chelan for reservations call 682-8023

Mill Bay – Launching docks, short term docking located just down lake from the ramp. Restroom and picnic area. No overnight docking. Vehicle and trailer parking. About 8 miles up lake from Chelan on the North Shore. Operated by Manson Parks and Rec.

Manson Bay – Overnight and seasonal dock spaces. Well protected and great access to downtown Manson. 10 miles up lake on the North Shore. Water, power, pump out. Operated by Manson Parks and Rec. 687-9635

First Creek State Park – Drive or boat to. Room for at least 10 boats, safe on the downlake side of the dock in a down lake wind. Tons of tent and RV camp sites. About 10 miles from Chelan. South Shore. State Parks

Mitchell Creek – Boat in only. Accessible only when water is above 1087′, shelter with a fireplace and campsites, can be busy in mid summer, watch for Rattlesnakes. 17 boat capacity, 6 tent sites. Shelter with fireplace. 16 miles from Chelan. North Shore GPS N47.58.13; W120.11.28


Mitchell Creek

Fields Point – Temporary docking only. Pump out station that is a pain in the butt to get to if there is any wind. 16 miles from Chelan. South shore. Vehicle parking. USFS

25 Mile Creek State Park – Drive or boat. Multiple dock spaces but limited transient berths. Lots of tent or RV camp sites, fuel, small store and a pump out station. Fresh water, showers, restrooms. Approach from the water only at full pool. 23 miles from Chelan on the South Shore.

25 Mile State Park

25 Mile State Park

Deer Point – Boat only. 8 boat spaces, 4 tent spaces. Good protection during down lake winds. Part of the dock is deep enough for a sailboat at 1086′ pool elevation. 23 miles from Chelan on the North Shore. GPS N48.01.37; W120.18.41

Safety Harbor – Boat only. Space for six boats, 4 tent spaces, a shelter and nice stream and well protected in most wind conditions and very deep, year around depth at dock. About 26 miles up lake on the South Shore. USFS GPS N48.02.53; W120.22.40


Safety Harbor

Big Creek – Was wiped out by flooding and is no longer available except for kayaks and dinghys. One tent site remains, hike up the creek a short way to a nice waterfall.

Corral Creek – Boat in. Space for about six boats and 2 tent sites. Sunbathing and swimming off of the big sloping rock there is very nice. Protected in a down lake wind only. Partial dock available at 1084′ pool. About 29 miles up lake on the South Shore. USFS GPS N48.02.47; W120.26.36

Graham Harbor – Deep (Year around depth) and well protected in a down lake blow. There is a shelter and new vault toilet. Graham and Corral have been voted as the best spots on the lake. 10 boat spaces 5 tent sites. Secure your boat well in case the wind turns up lake. USFS GPS N48.04.54; W120.29.15

Graham Harbor

Graham Harbor

Graham Creek – The crib dock was re-built in 2014, room for about four boats. Just up lake from Graham Harbor.

Cascade Creek – No dock, hike in or kayak. One campsite and pit toilet. USFS

Cascade Creek

Cascade Creek

Domke Falls – Beautiful, only room for a couple of boats although USFS rates it for six, 4 tent sites. Second most photographed waterfall on the Lake. About 38 miles up lake. USFS GPS N48.09.52; W120.32.34

Prince Creek – Small dock that will fit only a few boats, 6 tent sites. lots of room to romp around on shore and a nice stream. Year around depth. About 37 miles up lake on the North Shore. The dock was replaced in 2016. Snakes and bears liven things up. USFS GPS N48.08.52; W120.29.43

Prince Creek

Prince Creek

Refrigerator Harbor and Lucerne – Year around depth. We have crammed a dozen sailboats in here before. It can get some rock and roll in a down lake blow but this spot offers access to a hike into Domke Lake (3 miles) or the ten mile bus ride to Holden. * Holden Village is not open for visitors at this time due to mine remediation work.  Fresh water is available here and the Guard Station. The boat basin at the Lucerne Guard Station next door can hold up to 11 shallow draft boats (high pool only) and there are numerous tent sites available. 41 miles up lake on the South Shore. USFS GPS N48.12.04; W120.35.14

Refrigerator Harbor

Refrigerator Harbor has a lot of room at the dock and on shore

Moore Point – Moore is a great place to explore, see if you can locate where the old Hotel used to be. The dock is small and shallow so it’s not accessable to deeper draft boats. Shelter, 4 fire rings. About 44 miles up lake on the North Shore. USFS GPS N48.14.10; W120.36.56

Moore Point

Moore Point

Flick Creek – Cute looking spot, I haven’t been in to recon it but there appears to be room for several boats at the dock and there is rarely anyone there. About 44 miles up on the North Shore. USFS GPS N48.16.15; W120.37.18

Flick Creek

Flick Creek

Manley Wham – This is another tiny spot that is easy to miss but worth the stop. Small dock, 2 boats, 2 tent sites. About 44 miles up on the South Shore. USFS GPS N48.17.15; W120.39.19

Manley Wham

Manley Wham

Weaver Point (Stehekin) – Good Dock and lots of campsites, summer access only. This is where we spend a few days on the LCSA cruise (flush toilets!) Fresh water. This is the very head of Lake Chelan at 55 miles from Chelan. Hiking trails and the Stehekin River are added amenities.8 boat capacity 16 tent sites. NPS GPS N48.18.57; W120.40.29

Weaver Point

Weaver Point

Stehekin Landing and Purple Point – Both offer lots of dock space. The landing (year around depth) has fuel (gasoline only) water and pump out. From here access bike rentals, bus rides to Courtney Ranch or Rainbow Falls, Great food at the Landing Restaurant and some supplies at the store. Auto traffic seems out of place here so it’s not our first pick for extended stays. Catch the bus tour to Rainbow Falls or rent a bike to tour the valley. NPS GPS (landing) N48.18.17; W120.39.01

Note: GPS coordinates are from USFS and have not been verified. Please let us know if you have corrections.