On a weekend trip my husband, Andy, and I wanted to get our visiting parents into the heart of the mountains. The ragged mountains and vastness of alpine wilderness which caused us to fall in love with the Pacific Northwest. The North Cascades isn’t a normal spring destination to those not willing to trek miles on the trail and climbing elevation to reach snowy trails.

We’d been waiting for a long weekend to explore Stehekin, Washington–a village located on Lake Chelan and the southern border of North Cascades National Park–but never found the right time. The village is only accessible by foot, seaplane or boat.

Stehekin Ferry

It’s the off-season, so they don’t see many visitors. I had a hard time finding any information for things to do. Flood warnings were in the forecast, yet we were still excited to be showing our parents our home state, even if the seaplanes weren’t flying and the bakery wasn’t baking.

Stehekin Lodge

There’s a 13-mile road going north from the docks at the Lodge of Stehekin where those doing day trips pay a small price to be shuttled off to Rainbow Falls. Since we were there for a night, we didn’t feel rushed to see the falls right away.

Stehekin Lodge

We were welcomed by Mary with clipboard in hand. She greeted me, the reservation holder, and went into action giving directions to everyone else to walk down the road with the luggage towards the room. I followed her to check-in and get the keys. She walked me through and pointed out the many things we could do.

a room with a view - stehekin

She offered us her personal vehicle to head down to Rainbow Falls later in the day. I asked her how vehicles get to the village. She gave me the simple answer that ferries bring cars across the lake and mentions, “Cars come here to die.” It takes her almost an entire year until she has to fill up the gas tank.

Stehekin Dock

Mary lives in Stehekin all year and manages the national park lodge. Renovations were being done during our stay to get rooms ready for the peak season, which starts in May and ends in October. It was nice having the place to ourselves and the docks empty.

Rainbow Falls

To pass time, we piled into the dusty car to Rainbow Falls the first day and the next morning for hiking Agnes Gorge Trail, along walking the short trails around the lodge. In the evening, we found the lodge’s lounge and played pool for a few hours before snuggling up with our books and in the beds.

Agnes Gorge Trail

Without Mary, we wouldn’t have had the adventure of seeing as much as we did due to the off-season.

Dear Mary,

You’re customer service is outstanding, and I’m happy to have had the chance to visit the Lodge at Stehekin. You made the stay feel like visiting family, and I thank you for letting us borrow your car and answering our hundreds of questions. It was nice to get to know about your life in Stehekin. I wish you the best of weather this summer as other tourists come to stay at the national park and see the magical area you get to live in every day.

Until next time,


Farewell Stehekin

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