Fun Facts (and Legends) About Lake Chelan

by | Jul 6, 2022 | Amenities

Lake Chelan with mountains in the background on a sunny day

Lake Chelan is home to many of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, adventurous terrain, and hidden gems just waiting to be discovered around every corner.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot of fun facts about this beautiful lake town that few people know. So here’s a compilation of fun facts (and one legend) about Lake Chelan for you to ponder during your next visit!

1. Lake Chelan Depth

Low angle view of the Lake Chelan water line with fisherman on a boat

To the naked eye, Lake Chelan is absolutely breathtaking. The crystal blue water is the perfect summer temperature for water activities soaking up the sun by the shoreline.

But did you know that Lake Chelan is the third deepest freshwater lake in the United States?

Yes, this snake-like lake is roughly 50 miles long, two miles at its widest point, and has a depth of 1,486 feet at its deepest point. That’s WAY deeper than the Great Lakes! Plus, the deepest part of Lake Chelan is 386 feet below sea level.

Just to paint a picture for you, imagine almost three Space Needle buildings stacked on top of each other. That’s roughly how deep Lake Chelan is!  AND, from the top of the highest peak surrounding Lake Chelan to the bottom of the lake (that’s called a gorge), that distance is greater than the Grand Canyon!  Wow!

2. Lake Chelan Agriculture

Row of grapes trees overlooking Lake Chelan

Do you know why Lake Chelan Valley is one of the hotspots of the United States for vineyards and wine tasting? It’s the soil!

Lake Chelan is agriculturally recognized worldwide for having some of the best soil that grows up to 10,000 acres worth of apples, cherries, pears, apricots, peaches, and — you guessed it — wine grapes.

This is all made possible by the distinctive properties of the soil. Along with being coarse and sandy, the Lake Chelan soil contains quartz and mica, which give the wine grapes their textures, minerals, and nutrients.

One major type of soil that Lake Chelan contains is the Pumiceous Gravelly Sandy Loam, which is enriched by the freezing effects caused by glaciation from the Continental Ice Sheet and the volcanic activity from nearby Glacier Peak.

3. The Ruby Theatre

Ruby Theatre in Chelan Washington

Anyone up for a flick at the local movie theaters?

Take a trip to Downtown Chelan and pay a visit to the oldest operating single-screen movie theater in Washington state. 

That’s right — The Ruby Theatre has been running since July 1, 1917. Originally, the theatre was called “The Kingman Theatre” after the owners, Herbert and Morrison M. Kingman. However, shortly after it was built and opened, the Kingman family sold the theater to F. J. Potter, who renamed it after his foster daughter, Ruby.

Watching a movie at The Ruby will take you back to the golden age of enjoying cinema with family and friends. Check out its charming vintage decor, concession stand, and timeless stage and curtains.

4. The Lake Chelan Dragon (Tsilly)

Lake Chelan creature peaking out above the water line

Did you know that a longstanding tale of a Dragon called Tsilly has lived in the crystal blue waters of Lake Chelan as far back as 1812?

Legend has it that at the time of Tsilly’s first sighting, the creature would scare away the animals and fish along with ravaging homes up and down the valley, destroying everything that came in its path.

Tsilly, short for “tsillan,” means “deep water” in the Native American Salish dialect. The Native Americans so feared Tsilly at the time that they felt weary of canoeing on the waters of the deep lake, making it nearly impossible for them to gather food.

One famous sighting of this deep water monster was back in 1945 when a team of scuba divers was searching for an unfortunate accident involving a school bus plummeting into the lake. During this expedition, some of the divers in the group stated that they had witnessed a large dark shadow swimming in the waters, roughly 200 feet below the surface. One diver was so scared of what he saw that he refused to return to the water!

It’s a Fact, Staying at The Lodge is Awesome!

The building of mountain view lodge and resort during a sunny day

I hope you enjoyed these fun facts and legends about Lake Chelan. 

Here’s another fact for you. We love hosting new and returning travelers and would love to make your trip that much more special during your visit. Come check into a room at the Lodge and be at the heart of all the fun! Be sure to peek at some great deals and packages available for you and the family during your vacation getaway to Lake Chelan.