Approximately 25 miles northeast of Wenatchee is the small farming town of Waterville (pop. 1,100) with wide streets and classic American homes. It is the county seat for Douglas County and the town with the highest elevation in all of Washington. The 10-mile drive from Orondo (on the banks of the Columbia) gains 2,000 feet in elevation, climbing up a steep canyon before emerging onto the flat farming plateau around Waterville.
Several beautiful old buildings remain here, including the Douglas County Courthouse, the 1916 St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, and the classy three-story Waterville Historic Hotel (509/745-8695 or 888/509-8180, www.watervillehotel.com, $42–89 s or $49–95 d). Built in 1903, the hotel has been lovingly restored to its authentic beauty and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Inside are original and other antique furnishings. Rooms have private or shared baths, including some deluxe suites.
Waterville is also home to the Douglas County Historical Museum (509/745-8435, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Tues.–Sun. May 20 to mid-Oct., admission by donation), where the collection includes a 73-pound meteorite, a two-headed calf, and the old Winthrop post office. Ask here about tours of nearby wheat farms.
Local events include Waterville Days in mid-July, and the North Central Washington Fair in late August. A large outdoor pool is in the city park. Badger Mountain (509/745-8273), six miles south of Waterville, is a small area with three rope tows and a 1,500-foot drop—a family place for downhill and cross-country skiing and snowboarding.
Link Transit (800/851-5465, www.linktransit.com) has free bus service from Waterville to the rest of Douglas and Chelan counties.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition