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Golden West Visitor Center in Stehekin Closed for Summer Season

Golden West Visitor Center, situated in the Stehekin area of the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area in Washington, will not open for the upcoming summer season, according to a press release.

“The Stehekin area is an important part of the park for both staff and visitors. However, it receives significantly fewer visitors than other sections of the park. Budget constraints and challenges in hiring force us to focus limited resources where they can do the most good for the most visitors,” Don Striker, park superintendent said.

Statistics revealed a stark contrast in visitor numbers between the Golden West Visitor Center and the more frequented North Cascades Visitor Center. Over the past three years, the Golden West Visitor Center has seen an average annual visitation of 11,312, whereas the North Cascades Visitor Center has welcomed approximately 114,718 visitors annually, nearly ten times more.

Despite the closure, the park and its partners are dedicated to ensuring that visitors still have access to the necessary information and services to enjoy their visit to this remote locale.

To compensate for the absence of the visitor center, a variety of alternative resources will be made available. Visitors can access information and materials online, through bulletin boards scattered throughout the area, and via outdoor panels along valley trails. Additionally, concession operators in the area will offer general visitor information, along with essential services such as lodging, food, and supplies.

The challenges of attracting and retaining staff in Stehekin, a location accessible only by boat, plane, or a lengthy hike, have been exacerbated by budgetary limitations and the failure of appropriated funds to keep pace with inflation. The park has experienced a 28% reduction in staff over the last decade.

Despite these challenges, park officials are committed to maintaining essential services in Stehekin. Priorities include the operation and maintenance of campgrounds, restrooms, and picnic areas, and the provision of wildland firefighting and professional emergency response services as needed.

“Park managers have a duty to strategically implement resources where they make the most sense,” Striker said.

Accommodations, including the North Cascades Lodge at Stehekin, NPS campgrounds, backcountry camps, and most private lodgings, require reservations, particularly from May to September. 

“We are stewards of these exceptional national public lands, and we take that mission seriously. While we wish a cadre of rangers could staff all of our remote sites, unfortunately, it is simply not realistic in today’s fiscal climate,” Striker added.

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March 20, 2024 6:03 pm

It’s a bummer about the Golden West Visitor Center closing in Stehekin. Despite the challenges, we can still enjoy alternative resources for a great time in the area!

Vera Light
Vera Light
March 20, 2024 8:41 pm

Have you noticed that even with the Golden West Visitor Center closed in Stehekin, visitors can still enjoy ranger-led programs and guided hikes in North Cascades? It’s cool how they’re getting creative with virtual tours and online resources to enhance the whole experience in this remote area. What do you think about these new ways of exploring the park?

March 21, 2024 9:04 am

Great news for all you exploring Stehekin this summer! Exciting stuff ahead! Besides the usual, we’re bringing in cool virtual tours and interactive online experiences to jazz up your visit. Can’t wait for you to check them out and make your time here even more awesome!


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Hi, you might find this article from Modern Campground interesting: Golden West Visitor Center in Stehekin Closed for Summer Season! This is the link: https://moderncampground.com/usa/washington/golden-west-visitor-center-in-stehekin-closed-for-summer-season/