Wenatchee faces its twin, East Wenatchee
, across the Columbia River
. The name comes from a Native American word, meaning "water flowing out."
Despite its rich volcanic soil, the Wenatchee Valley was too arid for farming until the Highline Canal was built in 1903. Once irrigated, the land was planted with apple trees, and Wenatchee emerged as one of the world's largest producers of the fruit.
Wenatchee is also the center for many outdoor recreational activities. Wenatchee is the county seat of Chelan County. Highway 97 connects the city with Chelan to the north and Leavenworth to the west.