County Offices
341 E Main Street
Dayton 509-382-4321

Chamber of Commerce
166 E Main Street
Dayton 509-382-4825

Columbia County, in southeastern Washington, has a population of around 5,000 residents making it one of the more sparsely populated of Washington’s 39 counties. At 868.8 square miles, it is the ninth-smallest county in the state. It is bordered by Whitman County and the Snake River to the north, Walla Walla County to the west, Garfield County to the east, and the Oregon state line to the south.


Columbia county is an agricultural area and it is known for asparagus, green peas, and especially wheat, with ranching and logging also playing a significant role. Agriculture and food processing dominate the economy. Dayton, the largest town and county seat is well known for the historic preservation of its downtown. In 1999, the Downtown Dayton Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. This district includes 29 buildings (15 built before 1900) in a four-block area, and 117 buildings in all of Dayton.


Northern Columbia County has rolling hills and valleys, with its lowest elevation of 504 feet on the Snake River on its northern border. Farther south, the terrain becomes rugged and forested, with the Blue Mountains rising to 6,401 feet at Oregon Butte in the southern part of the county. Residents enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities ranging from hiking and camping to hunting and biking. And in what seems unusual for an agricultural community, skiing is a popular option.  High atop the Blue Mountains, the Bluewood ski area occupies the second-highest base elevation (4,545 feet) in the state. Bluewood also has some of the best snow in the state due to its location and weather conditions. The average annual snowfall is more than 300 inches of light and fluffy powder. The mountain offers 400 skiable acres of lift-serviced terrain for every ability level and interest.

Dayton and surrounding areas in Columbia County are home to some of the best fishing in the Pacific Northwest. Residents can launch their boat from Lyons Ferry for catfish, trout, bass and other river species on the Snake or Palouse Rivers. Fly fish Big Four Lake, the Touchet River and Tucannon River. The Little Goose dam area is a great place to fish for sturgeon or to catch the salmon runs. Tucannon Lakes have camping areas and shore fishing.  The main Touchet River is formed by the confluence of the North Fork of the Touchet which originates in the vicinity of Bluewood and winds down through Dayton. The river is easily accessible from downtown.


Quality educational opportunities are available in and near Columbia County, underlined by excellent public-school districts and options for select private and parochial schools. The county is served by two small school districts that use nationally recognized programs and detailed planning to ensure the highest education possible for students. Students in county school districts enjoy exceptionally low student to teacher ratios, giving students the opportunity for exceptional learning. For those seeking higher education, there are a number of online opportunities available from state and regional colleges and universities for students of all ages.

With an array of health services, including clinics, pharmacies, dentists and hospital care, residents do not have to travel far for many of their medical needs. The county healthcare services are highly developed. Serving the community’s health needs is Columbia County Health Service. It is the main healthcare provider with a hospital, ER facility and a nursing home.



City Offices

Chamber of Commerce

Nestled in a verdant valley at the base of the Blue Mountains, Dayton is the epitome of modern small town living. Residents and visitors alike enjoy the vast array of recreational opportunities along with all of the opportunities expected of a small town. Founded in 1887, Dayton is flush with history, boasting the state’s oldest operating courthouse—fully restored —and the Dayton Historic Depot Museum, featuring the oldest existing train station in the state of Washington.  Dayton also served as part of the Lewis & Clark Trail, which is commemorated by the Patit Creek Campsite exhibit and statues and murals downtown. Other museums include the Palus Artifact, the Boldman House and Smith Hollow Schoolhouse. A rich agricultural tradition still prevails in the area with wheat, apples and peas as the featured crops. Value-added agriculture has blossomed with the emergence of several farms offering products ranging from goat cheese to honey to heirloom tomatoes, and in 2013, Blue Mountain Station opened—an artisan food processing facility that is open to the public.

Arts and culture are central to the community which strongly supports the fully restored Liberty Theater (home to community theatrical productions and full-length, feature movies), the Wenaha Art Gallery and several annual art oriented events. Recreational opportunities abound—from fishing and boating to hiking and cycling to skiing and snowboarding. Bluewood, Lyons Ferry Marina, Palouse Falls and the Umatilla National Forest, which offers a variety of day hiking and backpacking trails, are all within a short driving distance. The Touchet Valley Golf Course is a 9-hole, public course located on the edge of Dayton. The course was built in 1910 on a dairy farm and today two holes lie in the infield of the Columbia County Fairgrounds horse track.



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