Spectacular Spring! The month of March marks the lowest water levels on Lake Chelan and the BEST time to take in the beach.
Rugged, wild and rocky, the Lake Chelan region is known for its pristine beauty all year ‘round. The hot summers of our area are known to bring spirited activity in the water and hills. The fall brings yummy harvest and the sweet smell of apples and wine grapes float on the air from the surrounding orchards and vineyards. And the winter brings out the excitement of snowplows, snow mobiles, and downhill skis, as well as the serenity of snowshoes and cross-country skis. But the spring? That’s the time to explore and to take gentle walks on the beach… and that time is now!
The spring season is one of my favorite times of year anyway, but at Lake Chelan it is really special. This is the time of year when everything comes alive! The sun, with its brilliant smile, greets you each earlier each day. The flowers pop their faces to welcome you along all the scenic trails. The animals wander freely nibbling on new shoots and morsels. And at Lake Chelan, it’s the BEST time of year to stroll along the beach.
Since 1892 engineers have been using the Lake Chelan access to the Chelan River for navigation, water supply and power generation. The natural level of the lake is 1079 feet above sea level, but due to the hydropower project it reaches a maximum level of 1100 feet by July 31st. Raising the water level of the lake for these uses, effectively, takes away almost all of the limited beach area that was naturally available on this very deep lake. Due to the snowpack in the Cascade Mountains at the head of the lake, though, the water levels need to be reduced to prevent flooding in the springtime. The PUD has a great “Facts” page on this if you’re interested!
As the waters recede from the shores of Lake Chelan, opportunities open up!
During the month of March, the “shallow” South end of Lake Chelan, around the city of Chelan and the town of Manson, provides sandy beaches, freshwater clam shells, colorful rocks and warm exploration. My favorite place to go is down near Don Morse Park toward Spader Bay. It’s a great place to wander and dream of times past. Imagine the days when the Native Americans habited this land; and when the settlers came and everyone coexisted peacefully, sharing their knowledge of old and new times.
When I was a little kid, my sister and I would spend hours searching for arrow heads and artifacts, and “making” pots out of the clay in the earth so that we could feed our families (assorted grass and leaves, of course!). I still think of these things as I look around at the lake and the hills. You can almost feel history. And it is lovely.
There are many other great spots along the lake, too! Here are some ideas of things you can do:
- Walk with your honey, holding hands.
- Let the kids RUN!
- Skip rocks along the smooth, windless lake.
- Toss a stick for your dog; he’ll love it!
- Sit in the sand in the warm sun and absorb the much-needed Vitamin D it provides.
- Have a picnic on the beach.
- Build a small fire and roast marshmallows – bring all your own stuff and be sure to douse that fire!
- Walk the Chelan River Gorge – Reach 1 Trail.
- Search for beautiful driftwood for a unique DIY project.
- Write a short story about your imaginings.
And, by all means, TAKE PICTURES!