Frequently Asked Questions
Have some questions about your stay in Stehekin? We have compiled a list of some of our most frequently asked questions. If after looking through our FAQs you still have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us using the Contact Us page.
About the Ranch
What is a tent cabin?
We have 2 tent cabins which have wood frame walls, but have a canvas roof. They also have screen windows which are great for letting a cooling cross-breeze through in the hot summer months, but can be covered with canvas curtains as needed. Their porches have seating looking out across the pasture. Lights are provided, and bathroom and shower facilities are located nearby in the main building. The tent cabins are a very comfortable place to sleep during the warm summer months.
What is the difference in a Ranch Cabin, Kitchen Cabin and Wagon?
Ranch Cabins: Fully enclosed cabins with electricity and their own bathroom and shower. Also insulated and heated in cooler weather.
Kitchen Cabins: Log cabins with similar amenities to the Ranch cabins, but also have a small kitchenette strip. These cabins are smaller than the Ranch cabins, and are ideal for a couple. Kitchen cabins are rented at the same rates as the Ranch cabins.
Wagons: Fun wagon style cabins with similar amenities to the Ranch Cabins. These are cozy cabins, and are intended for no more than 2 people, but have plenty of space for a couple. Wagons are rented at the same rates as the Ranch Cabins.
Where do I go to the bathroom and shower if I stay in a tent cabin?
All the tent cabins are within 100 feet of the main cookhouse, which provides bathroom and shower rooms as well. There is also a reading lobby in the main building since lighting is minimal in the cabins.
Do I need to bring a sleeping bag if I’m in a Tent Cabin?
We provide all bedding and towels for our guests at the Ranch, including those staying in Tent Cabins.
Where can I plug in a Battery Charger for my Phone?
All of our cabins and wagons have electrical outlets in them, which can be used for charging things.
For those staying in a Tent Cabin, there are various outlets that may be used for charging small items such as phones and cameras located in the main building. If you need help locating an outlet, just ask one of our friendly staff for help.
Why would I want to rent a tent cabin?
They are cool and well ventilated during the warmer months, and because they stay cooler, people often sleep better. The tent cabins give the feeling of “camping out”, but yet they have regular beds. And they are located where they get the best view out of all the lodging options. For those on a budget, the tents are a deal, saving you $$ each night.
Are all my meals included at the ranch for the price quoted?
Yes. All cabins are rented on the “American Plan”. This means that the price includes all meals in addition to your cabin. Included meals begin with dinner the day you arrive, and you may pack a sack lunch the day you depart. We also throw in transportation on the scheduled bus.
What food/beverages are not included?
We do not supply all of the drinks for free. Hot beverages, water, and lemonade are included. Pop, bottled water, and other juices are available at an extra charge.
Do you serve alcohol?
No. We do not have a liquor license. You may bring your own alcoholic beverages with you if you like. Ice is available for coolers down the road at The Lodge at Stehekin, or you may use our fridge to keep a few items cold. We find that folks who enjoy alcohol primarily before or during meals fit in well at the ranch. However, if your habit is to get unruly, there is little tolerance.
Does the Ranch provide wine bottle openers and wine glasses?
We do have bottle openers – just ask one of our friendly kitchen staff. We do not have wine glasses, but you are welcome to our plastic cups if you forget to bring your own!
What is the best plan for folks with special diet needs?
Can I buy groceries in Stehekin?
Yes and No. The Lodge at Stehekin operates a small convenience store which carries an extremely limited supply of grocery items. What they carry is mostly stuff that people often forget. If you are needing anything specific, we highly recommend you bring your supplies with you, as we cannot guarantee that you will find everything you need. If you are looking for beer or wine, it is available at the Lodge store.
Is there TV/phone/internet at the Ranch?
No. We enjoy an atmosphere free from the constant bombardment of these technological advancements, and we find that our guests like to get away from it all too. If you have a need to “stay connected”, then the Ranch is probably not the best choice for your vacation. However, in case of emergencies, there are ways to send an email, and there is a phone 9 miles down-valley if you need to call someone.
Do you provide shampoo, soap, and hairdryers?
Yes and no. We do provide complimentary shampoo and soap. We do not provide hairdryers, and ask that if at all possible you leave your hairdryers at home. We operate “off-grid”, which means that there are very few times when we are generating enough power to operate a hairdryer. We are “going green”, using solar power, and ask you to help us in this endeavor by leaving behind high power usage items for a few days. For more information about how we generate our power, click here.
Should I bring a flashlight?
It does get dark around the Ranch at night, so it is a god idea to bring a flashlight with you.
How are the mosquitoes?
Generally, the Ranch is not bad in terms of bugs. Their population does vary year to year though, and it is always a good idea to bring bug spray just in case!
We are thinking of bringing some extra guests. Can we pitch a tent next to our cabin?
Sorry, but NO. While we will do our best to accommodate your extra guests, we are not a campground, and do not want our lawns to turn into “tent cities.” It is one of those “if we let you do it, everyone will want to do it” kind of policies.
When is the Ranch Open?
We generally open mid-June, and always wrap up our season with the Fall Color Trip package, which ends the first week in October.
What is your cancellation policy?
10% of the total cost of stay is nonrefundable. 100% of deposit is nonrefundable unless we are notified in writing (email is fine) 21 days prior to your scheduled arrival. If your reservation is made less than 21 days prior to your scheduled arrival the deposit is non-refundable. Total cost of your stay plus tax is due upon your arrival. 50% of the cost of unused services will be refunded.
Fire, Smoke & “Acts of God” Policy:
We are not responsible for natural disasters which might affect your stay such as fires, smoke, floods, etc. As such, we do not refund your deposit if you decide to cancel due to an “act of God”, unless an official evacuation notice has been issued and guests are literally unable to come – which is a very rare occurrence. If you are concerned about losing your deposit in this sort of event, we highly recommend purchasing Travel Insurance (see below). Please do not expect us to be your insurance policy. We also encourage folks who may have respiratory issues to NOT plan your stay during the typical fire/smoke season (generally the month of August has a higher potential for fires in the surrounding area.)
We highly recommend you purchase travel insurance. Unexpected events happen, which can cause you to cancel your trip. To guard against losing your deposit, you can buy travel insurance for a small fee. If you wish to purchase travel insurance, go to TripAssure , or other online travel insurance sites for details and to purchase.
Our “Off-Grid Power System
Where does the power come from in Stehekin?
Most of the Stehekin Valley residents enjoy public power, provided by Chelan PUD, but generated by a pelton wheel here in Stehekin. The PUD lines do not extend all the way to the Ranch, however, so we must generate our own power.
Where does the Ranch get its power?
How our system has worked historically:
We have a “Hybrid” system which has been used for 30 years. A hybrid system is where you use components of an alternative energy such as a battery bank and inverter, but your main source of power is still fossil fuels. Ours system consists of a diesel generator which runs up to 16 hours each day. When it is not running, we use energy stored in batteries to run our lights, and energy stored in super cooled glycol to run our refrigeration.
Burning Less Diesel: In 2013, Cliff and Kerry (owners) installed a new solar power system for their house. The Ranch was able to tap in to that solar installation so that when there was abundant sun we could use the excess power. On a sunny day this cut up to 10 hours off of the time we need to run the generator! Other things we are doing to make our system more efficient include a switch from the now antiquated fluorescent bulbs to LED lighting, and to install a more efficient pump and kitchen exhaust fan.
Improvements – more solar and full-time power: We installed more solar panels in 2014, and reworked our electrical circuits so that we can run off of either solar or batteries nearly full time. Now, the diesel generator will only turn on if the load becomes too great for the solar power system to handle. Since the goal is to not run the diesel generator at all, we have done all we can to keep the loads down throughout the camp, while still providing necessary power for our guests.
Are there more “Green” options?
Burning diesel is obviously not an ideal choice – it is not particularly environmentally friendly, and it is certainly not cheap. Left to our own devices, we would use a Micro-Hydro system (similar to the pelton wheel used by the PUD, but on a smaller scale) which would have a low impact on the environment, and be nearly free. However, in the grand wisdom of our government, hydro has been deemed “non-green” in Washington State, and thus banned as a power source unless grandfathered in.
How does the Ranch’s alternative power system affect me as a guest?
Truly it is fun to visit eco-tourism establishments and to be a part of supporting a system that is striving to be more efficient. Unfortunately the “green” that is being saved is not cash. Alternative energy is very expensive. It also does not deliver the copious amounts of power that can be generated with fossil fuels. Consequently, with all alternative energy systems conservation becomes a key element, which our guests need to be conscientious of.
What can I do as a guest to help keep the power working for everyone?
There are 2 main differences from the way things used to work:
First, all the outlets will work all the time. You no longer have to time your use of the outlets for when the generator is on. CPAP machines and chargers for all your electronic devices can be plugged into any outlet any time.
Second, and this one is important, all of these outlets are on low amp circuits. This means that while they will work just fine for most things, they cannot handle large electrical loads such as hair dryers, curling irons, or personal heaters. If you try to use one of these high powered items anywhere in camp, the circuit breaker will pop, and you will be out of luck (and out of power). We hope and trust that our clientele will support and understand our desire to be more responsible with our energy supply and will be willing to make the small sacrifices necessary.
Let me be clear here: the above mentioned restrictions are for large electrical loads. Many electrical items may still be used. The lights are on all the time, and we also have power to run CPAP machines or other small devices. And rest assured, we do make sure the kitchen has all the power needed to run the refrigeration and produce plenty of tasty home cooked meals!
Let us talk a minute about the much used hair dryer as an example of items we take for granted. The high setting on a hair dryer is often 1500 watts. The average LED light bulb is 10 watts. It is obvious then that to run your hair dryer on high it is the equivalent of running 150 LED bulbs! We understand that hair dryers are nice, but truly we do not mind if you show up for breakfast with wet hair, and it certainly will help us keep our system working.
Starting in 2022, we will no longer be allowing pets. We have unfortunately had too many complaints regarding unattended or poorly behaved pets.
Can I hike into Stehekin?
Absolutely! There are numerous trails that lead to Stehekin. These routes range from 100 miles to 15.5 miles in length. Contact the NPS for help planning your route.
Are trails into Stehekin open for stock?
As of 2023, we have made the decision to discontinue boarding guest horses. Due to the stock bridge being out on the North Fork of Bridge Creek, the main route for folks riding in is unpassable for stock. In 2022, while we had interest from folks riding in, not a single one was actually able to make the trip, and our corrals stood empty. Therefore, until the stock bridge is rebuilt, we will not be setting up corrals or stocking hay for guest horses. If and when the bridge is rebuilt, we will readdress this issue.
Yes. With the exception of the Cascade Pass and Horseshoe Basin trails, stock are welcome. The most common route for folks riding in to the Ranch is to come in from Highway 20. Click here for more detailed Q&A’s regarding this route.
What are my options for transportation to Stehekin?
Your options are:
1) Passenger boat
2) Private airplane
3) Private boat
4) Riding in
5) Hiking in
1) Passenger boat — Most folks come by boat. Your boat options include scheduled runs provided by Discover Lake Chelan (aka “Lady of the Lake or the Stehekin Ferry. WE RECOMMEND RIDING ON THE STEHEKIN FERRY IF AT ALL POSSIBLE. The Lady Express is your next best option if the ferry is full.
If taking one of these commercial vessels, your first step is to get to the Chelan area. If you are riding a commercial passenger boat, your best bet is to go to Fields Point. The price is the same as riding from Chelan, but this shorter boat ride means you can leave home later and get back home earlier.
2) Private wheel plane — Stehekin has its own dirt 2700′ airstrip. It is only a short walk to catch the Stehekin Shuttle Bus to the Ranch from there. With prior arrangements, we may be able to pick you up right from the strip as well. This is a great option for the small strip pilot.
3) Private Boat — There are numerous boat launches on the Chelan end of the lake, and many docks on your way up Lake Chelan. At Stehekin there is a substantial deep water dock to moor at.
4 & 5) Hiking or Riding to Stehekin — Contact the NPS for current route information, and regulations concerning stock. For more information about the most common stock route, Click here. Please Note: The stock bridge is out at the North Fork of Bridge Creek. Because of this, we are not providing boarding for guest horses at this time.
Is my car safe parked in the Chelan parking lots?
Generally speaking, yes. While I cannot say that there has never been a car broken into there, it is extremely rare. Field’s point is gated, and also manned during the day.
What is the best route to Chelan?
As you can imagine this depends where you are coming from. Many folks are from the Seattle area or come in to Seattle/Tacoma Airport. The best choice from there is to come over Snoqualamie Pass on US 90, and then over Blewett Pass on SR 97.
If you are coming from areas North of Seattle, Stevens Pass on US 2 is your best option.
If you want a scenic route, then by all means travel the Methow Valley and Hwy 20 for one leg or your journey. Routes and options can be researched at www.CascadeLoop.com.
Information on getting to Field’s Point Landing can be found here: www.FieldsPointLanding.com
How many people live in Stehekin?
There are usually 80-100 people that live year-round in Stehekin.
What do people do for a living?
Many work for the National Park Service who administers Lake Chelan National Recreation Area as well as North Cascade National Park. Other jobs include: powerhouse operator, school teacher, postmaster, carpenter, and numerous jobs in the recreation industry.
When did Stehekin become a National Park?
It actually never did. The Stehekin Valley was excluded from the park proper when the North Cascades National Park was established. The upper 4 miles of Lake Chelan and lower 10 miles of the Stehekin Valley are in the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area. The area was formerly administered by the US Forest service and was taken from that agency in 1968 to be run by the NPS.
Is there a school in Stehekin?
Yes. There is a state school that encompasses grades K-8. Even though the new school which was built in 1988 has more than one room, it is still considered a one room school because grades 1-8 are all taught together in one classroom.
What do kids do for high school?
There is no one answer to that question, but there are many options. Some parents tend to home school with the aid of a commercial curriculum or web-based program. Academics are easy these days, but a lot of parents have chosen to leave the valley if the kids want to be involved in sports.
Are there telephones in Stehekin?
Yes. Stehekin has satellite phone service, but no hard line or cell phone service.
Other Stehekin Questions
How do I pay for things in Stehekin?
While Stehekin Valley Ranch accepts MasterCard or Visa, many businesses in the valley prefer to have payments made with cash or a check. This is due to the expensive set up and processing of credit cards from such a remote area. Be sure to bring some cash with you to spend at the Bakery and the gift shops! Also, if you need to ride the Stehekin Shuttle, it’s good to have some spare change. There is NO ATM in Stehekin.
How do I get around in Stehekin?
Ranch guests get free transportation as part of their stay. Most of this is on a scheduled bus or van. Customized transportation can be arranged as needed and availability allows.
For those not staying with us, there is still a shuttle bus that runs 4 times a day during the summer, and is a great option to get you where you need to go. Click here for a complete schedule and prices.
Another option which gives you more freedom is to rent a bike from Discovery Bikes.
How’s the weather?
In the springtime we usually experience some windy conditions and the mornings and evenings are still cool with the days warming up to 50-70 degrees. Summer is very comfortable for most — late July and August start to get warm (80 and 90 degrees is normal) and is when most people enjoy having the river and the lake to play in. Fall is traditionally magical with its crisp, clear days and then cold mornings and evenings. Winter finds the valley with an average snow level of 4-6 feet and can drop to below zero temperatures. We recommend you keep all weather conditions in mind no matter what time of year. Don’t be shy about asking for weather up dates- although we can’t predict the weather we can sure tell you how it’s been lately. Though it’s rare, we have even experienced snow conditions in summer- especially in the higher elevations.
If you are traveling by private boat to Stehekin and are unaware of the moody winds of Lake Chelan, then we highly recommend being prepared to pull in to a safe harbor should you need to in case of high winds or a break down. Have some food, shelter options, sleeping bags and any medications just in case. It’s a good idea to have a flare or something bright to get the attention of the passenger boat or the seaplane in case you are in any trouble also.
You can find a decent weather report from the National Weather Service.
You can also check out the Stehekin webcam at www.golakechelan.com.
Is there air-conditioning anywhere in Stehekin?
If we are experienced kayakers, can we kayak the Stehekin River?
Not with our equipment. If you bring your own, it is up to you. It has been run from High Bridge down. Above that, there are blind canyons, and the general consensus is that it would be grade A stupid to run because there is no way to scout it. Please be extremely cautious if you do run any part of the Stehekin River! This river floods pretty regularly, and there is a LOT of wood in it. Be sure to scout your whole route before attempting it.
Links to Other Stehekin Businesses
Looking for a horse adventure? These guys have you covered! Dayrides, lessons, back country camps, and horse supported pack trips.
Stehekin Pastry Company
Our famous local bakery. Definitely a popular destination for our guests!
Stehekin Log Cabins
Located directly behind the bakery, these cabins are run by Mistaya’s aunt & uncle – Cragg & Roberta Courtney.
The National Park Service maintains several reports that may be helpful. You may also call them at 360-854-7365.