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Waterville Plateau

The Waterville Plateau is a large upland area bounded on the west and north by the Columbia River and on the east by the Grand Coulee. The town of Waterville is located in the western portion of the plateau, and provides a convenient starting point for the description of this route. However, after reading the description of this route, you may find it more convenient to start at other locations.

Access and Logistics

From the West: From SR 97 along the east side of the Columbia River travel to Orondo (about 17 miles north of downtown Wenatchee). In Orondo, turn east on US 2 and travel about 10 miles to Waterville. Alternatively, from points north along SR 97, travel to the Beebe Bridge, which carries SR 97 across the Columbia River. At the east end of the bridge, turn onto McNeil Canyon Road and drive for just over 8 miles and turn right onto Mud Springs Road. Travel 8 miles on Mud Springs Road (which becomes Logan Road) and turn right on Road 8. Travel about 10 miles on Road 8 (which becomes Road N.5 and then Road 7) and then continue onto Waterville Road (which becomes North Road and then Road O) about 4½ miles into Waterville.

From the East: From along Grand Coulee, travel either north along SR 17 (if coming from Ephrata or Soap Lake) or south along SR 155 (if coming from the town of Grand Coulee) to reach US 2 near Dry Falls – Coulee City. Turn on US 2 heading west and travel about 40 miles to reach Waterville.

The routes described for travelling to Waterville are good for birding, although US 2 can be a busy road with fast-moving traffic. Numerous side roads, many of them graveled, provide access throughout the plateau. Roads marked with letters of the alphabet run north and south. Named or numbered roads run east and west.

Logistics: Most property is private, so birding is generally done from roadsides. In winter, snow, especially drifting snow, can cause difficulties driving, so carrying a shovel is wise.

Waterville has limited services. A broader range of facilities can be found in Coulee City, the town of Grand Coulee, Soap Lake, and Ephrata to the east of the plateau. Wenatchee and Chelan to the west and southwest, have complete facilities. Cell phone service is generally available on the plateau, but may drop off in the canyons leading up to the plateau.

Major Habitats along Route
  • Shrub-steppe
  • Agricultural Lands
  • Riparian
  • Open water/Wetlands

Birds and Seasons to Visit

Seasons: This route is excellent in winter.

Birds: Winter is the most common time for people to bird this area when open country birds (e.g. raptors, redpolls, rosy-finches, snow buntings, longspurs, gray partridge) are typically sought on the plateau. Other seasons are typically not as birdy, but in summer Swainson\'s Hawks nest in small, isolated trees. The sewer plant outside Waterville is a good place for shore birds and waterfowl. The canyons leading up from the Columbia River can be good biding locations during spring and early summer.

Road F has had a large number of Snowy Owls in the past, especially the paved/plowed sections between Road 15 and SR 2. Driving the east/west roads of Slusser and Sprauer are typically productive. From SR 2 north on SR 172 to Sprauer takes you by Withrow, where the area by the grain elevators can be good for Gray Partridge. Going west on Sprauer Road from SR172 will take you by Lamoine, another 3 mile stretch that is popular. About 1 mile west of Lamoine a short county road goes north to a gravel pit, which is gated. The trees here have held great horned and long-eared owls. About ½ mile further on the south side of Sprauer Road a long row of mostly evergreens also has held owls.

Side Trips

Mansfield. Mansfield cemetery and the town itself. In winter look for great horned owls, horned larks, Eurasian collared doves, quail, partridge, and pheasants, as well as kinglets, redpolls and juncos.

Jameson Lake. The north end of Jameson Lake can be reached by going south on Mansfield Boulevard, past the airport for 9 miles. Before you reach the lake you will pass Bennett Lake, and if it is fishing season, the one-mile long road to Grimes Lake will be open. There is a golden eagle nest on a cliff above Bennett Lake and in summer, you can see savannah, vesper and Brewer\'s sparrows, loggerhead shrikes, sage thrasher, Caspian tern, grebes, and the many breeding ducks, which include redhead, wigeon, gadwall, ruddy duck, and mallard.


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