What’s the best way to get to Stehekin?

Thank you very much for choosing to stay at Stehekin Valley Ranch!

You have several options on ways to get here, and most folks choose to arrive by one of the passenger ferries. However, we are finding that even folks who have visited here several times are confused about how to make the best boat choice this year.

The first thing I want to admit is that the new Stehekin Ferry is run by the Courtney Family. We have set up the schedule that we think works best for MOST visitors. We want you to have a choice, but we also want your travel to be pleasant.

There are two big factors that have made boat choices complex, even for experienced Stehekin travelers.

  1. Recently, TWO smaller catamarans options have been added to Lake Chelan. Many folks have been confused as to which is which.
    • One is our own Stehekin Ferry.
    • The other is the Lady Liberty (aka Lady Cat) which is being run mostly for day trips by Discover Lake Chelan (aka Lake Chelan Boat Co).
  2. The Lake Chelan Boat Company sold, and the new owners are trying a lot of different (often good) ideas quickly, which means what was the norm in the past is not necessarily true now. They have also re-named some of their boats, which also complicates matters.

A quick note about where to park your car:

We recommend parking at Field’s Point Landing, for several reasons. Overnight parking is less expensive than in Chelan, and it will keep all of your boat travel options open, as it is the only dock serviced by BOTH boat companies. It also means you will spend less time on the boats, and more time at your vacation destination.

Learn more about: Field’s Point Landing

Why your choice matters when staying at the Ranch:

Because Stehekin Valley Ranch is located 9 miles up Valley from the boat landing, we must combine bus runs and make them as efficient and enjoyable as possible. With so many different boat options and varied arrival/departure times, it is impossible to meet every single boat perfectly with our scheduled bus. We have done our best to keep the wait time as minimal as possible for the options we see as the best for our customers.

So what IS the best boat option?

Here’s a list of your boat options in order of what we think are the best to the worst for your enjoyment and ease of travel connections. If you want more details of why we put them in this order, read on below the list.

 1. The Stehekin Ferry – Book Now

  • The Ranch Bus meets this boat both coming and going.
  • This boat coordinates perfectly with the Ranch’s 3pm check-in time.
  • You have plenty of time to settle in at the Ranch before dinner.
  • Best schedule if you have a long drive to get to Lake Chelan.

2. The Lady Express

  • The Ranch Bus meets this coming, but you have a wait at the dock before departure.
  • You have the whole afternoon in Stehekin on your first day.
  • You do have to get up EARLY to catch this boat to Stehekin, and will get home late if departing on it.
  • This boat has been running late, due to extra stops along the lake. Expect to depart later than scheduled if taking this boat.

3. Lady of the Lake (aka Lady II)

  • Not ideal for overnight visitors to Stehekin.
  • This boat has not been operating on a consistent daily schedule, and the bus does not meet it coming or going.
  • This boat is great if you are in it for the scenery and a long boat ride. Excellent for those interested in a day trip. Not so much if you are wanting to spend your vacation time in Stehekin.

4. Lady Liberty (aka Lady Cat)

  • Designed for Day Trips based in Chelan.
  • Very fast travel time, but the schedule misses the Ranch bus pick-up/drop-off times.
  • Uses a different dock in Stehekin, which complicates connections with the bus.
  • Not running every day, so may or may not be an option on your travel day.

Stehekin Boat & Bus Scheduling Details:

Still not sure? Read on…

The Stehekin Ferry departs 20 minutes before the Lady Express is scheduled to arrive, so our first bus run of the day works great for those departing on the Ferry, or arriving on the Express. Our bus leaves the Ranch at 9am and heads down the road, stopping at several places along the way if folks have not seen all of the sites yet. The bus arrives at the boat dock at about 10:25am.

This is perfect for folks riding the Stehekin Ferry since it departs at 10:40am. With this option you are back in your car and on the road right around noon. This has been an incredible boon for folks that have a long drive ahead of them. Before you depart the Ranch, you are given the chance to pack a sack lunch as well.

Our bus is then scheduled leave the dock at 11am heading back to the Ranch. However, it is often behind schedule because while the Lady Express still leaves Chelan at 8:30am, that boat no longer does an “express” run. Instead of coming straight uplake to Stehekin from Field’s Point, it now makes several stops dropping off hikers and thus is often late. If we have guests on the Lady Express, we will always wait for it to arrive before departing with our bus.

If you have elected to depart on the Lady Express, you will have a longer wait at the Landing (boat dock area), as their scheduled departure is 12:30 pm (down lake) this year. They added 30 minutes to their Stehekin layover, so it is departing later than it used to. Adding that to its tendency to be 30 minutes late, your actual departure may be after 1pm. Keep in mind that to catch this boat you must still depart the Ranch on the 9am bus because there is no way to run another bus down efficiently for both boats.

Our second bus run leaves the ranch at 1:20pm and arrives at The Landing before 2:30, which is great for those arriving on the Stehekin Ferry. After a short stop at the Bakery, it brings you to the Ranch with lots of time to get oriented and settled in before dinner. Folks arriving on this boat only needed to get to Fields Point Landing by around 12:30 pm to get ready for a 1:00 pm departure for Stehekin. They have had all morning to drive during daylight hours from their home or plane.

The old Lady II (Now called “Lady of the Lake”) is running an erratic summer schedule. Some days it does not run at all and during the days it does run there are two different departure times. You are welcome to get on this boat, but do know that you may have long waits for buses.

The Lady Cat has been renamed “Lady Liberty”. It is scheduled mostly for day trippers from the Chelan end of the lake. Again, you are welcome to catch this boat which arrives at 9:30am, but it still requires that you wait for the 11:00am bus that departs The Landing to get to the Ranch.