Find Adventure in Chelan County
Adventure is right around the next curve. Take a road trip on and around Route 97 in Chelan County from the Wenatchee National Forest to Ellensburg. There’s a reason this area is called Washington’s playground. You’ll know why too, once you’re done exploring. Cross the Cascade Loop off your bucket list as you drive west from Route 97. To the east of Wenatchee is the Ice Age Floods Loop, where ancient time comes alive. Enjoy an ever changing landscape as you drive the Three County Corridor from Oroville to Wenatchee.
Drink in the Sights
As you travel Route 97, to the east you’ll find the Columbia River and the Channeled Scablands. To the west is the Bavarian village of Leavenworth and the Cascade foothills and mountains. Let the unspoiled beauty of the Wenatchee and Columbia Rivers and Lake Chelan entice you with their charms. All around you are orchards, breweries, and cideries. This is the Cascade Valley Wine Region Country, There’s more get-away-from-it-all here than you could even imagine.
The Allure of Lake Chelan
Give in to the charms of Lake Chelan. Spend the day, a week, or even more, discovering its beauty. Lake Chelan itself is a geological wonder and the third deepest lake in North America. The lake is 81.3 km (50.5 mi) long and surrounded by mountains over 2,440 m (8,000 ft) high. The lake is estimated to be 457m (1,500 ft) deep. The bottom is actually below sea level. Its deep blue waters are among the purest in the world.
Explore the 80 km (50 mi) of glacier-fed aqua marine waters surrounded by the Cascade mountains. This is a stunning location for more than 30 wineries. Most people come to Lake Chelan for the water and the wine, while others come to visit Stehekin. This community, nestled in the North Cascades, is unique because it is only accessible by boat, plane or foot.
Take an epic ride on surrounding trails on your mountain, cruiser, or electric bike or motorcycle. Hike or ride horseback on over 400 km (250 mi) of trails through the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, a landscape born of volcanoes, glaciers, and massive floods. For something a little more extreme, try skydiving, flying aboard a seaplane, paragliding, hang gliding or zip line through the mountains. Find your thrills, or kick back and relax, it’s your road trip.
Enjoy the Freshness of Wenatchee
Travel to where the Columbia and Wenatchee Rivers meet in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. You’re in Wenatchee, the largest urban center in Chelan County. This self-proclaimed Apple Capital of the World is separated from Douglas County and East Wenatchee by the Columbia River. It’s worth your while to take a 17.5 km (11 mi) hike or bike along the River Loop Trail that crosses the Columbia River. Wenatchee sits at the heart of the Cascade Valley Wine Region Country. This is the fastest growing wine region in Washington State. You’ll find tastings rooms all along this route in Chelan County. Come meet the growers, winemakers, farmers, fruit stand operators, brewers and cider makers. These are the people who are transforming this rich agricultural area… one fresh taste at a time.
Entiat, Tunnels, and Earthquakes
From Chelan, as you travel south on Highway 97 you’ll pass through the dramatic Knapps Hill Tunnel above the Columbia River. Continue on to Earthquake Point, where an earthquake in 1872 caused a giant landslide from the high cliff above that dammed the Columbia River for several years.
North of the town of Entiat is the Columbia Breaks Interpretive Center. Stop here and visit old fire lookouts and a museum dedicated to the long history of wildfires in the area. Entiat has a popular city park located right on the banks of the Columbia. It hosts several festivals throughout the year, including the popular Rites of String Kite Festival in March.
Fall in Love with Leavenworth
When you arrive in Leavenworth you may feel like you’ve arrived in Bavaria in Europe. The people of this quaint alpine Bavarian village love to celebrate. There’s Maifest and Kinderfest and even an International Accordion Celebration. Stroll through town and enjoy the variety of shops, German beer, and great German food. Check out the Icicle Creek Center for the Arts to experience the wonders of nature influenced by the arts.
There’s more outdoor adventure here than you can fit into one day. West of Leavenworth is the dramatic Stuart Range at 2850 m (9,415 ft) high. It is known for its rock, ice, and alpine climbing. You can enter the Wenatchee River at Leavenworth for some river rafting or tubing. Fish, camp, hike, kayak, paddleboard, golf, cycle, the list goes on. In the winter there’s dog sledding, Nordic skiing, ice climbing, sleigh rides, snowshoeing and more.
Chelan County in Winter
Come visit in the quiet stillness of winter when the mountains are blanketed in snow. Outdoor recreation is everywhere. Bundle up and go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling on acres of mountain forested trails.
Beyond Chelan County
Follow the Cascade Loop from its western reaches of Chelan County. Route 2 travels westward to Seattle, in the shadow of the Cascade Range near Stevens Pass. Take that same highway east to drive along mile after mile of waving wheat fields. It’s here you’ll find the famous Ice Age Floods Loop. Visit the Channeled Scablands, Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park and then drive on to Spokane. Follow Route 28 winding south from Wenatchee and you’ll wind up in Quincy, home of the Gorge Amphitheatre, a legendary outdoor concert venue in the heart of Washington.
Need to Know:
|Route 97 Distance – Ellensburg to Wenatchee:||113km/71mi|
|Duration to drive:||Minimum two to three hours|
|Best time to drive:||Year round|