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Photo of John Day from above


This 120 year old frontier city embodies the heart of small town America. With values that center the community in a place where no one is a stranger and the great outdoors is on your back door step.

Our Story

The City of John Day is a jewel nestled in the exquisite mountains and hills of Eastern Oregon. The drive into town alone will fill you with awe and have you pulling over every couple of miles to photograph the landscape. The high desert setting of the City has been a beacon of independence and self-determination in the region for over one hundred years.
Visitors are drawn to the area to enjoy the myriad of outdoor activities and attractions such as the Grant County Fair, annual Cycle Oregon event or locally hosted events by the Chamber of Commerce. Residents enjoy a balanced pace of life and relish in being stewards of a land rich in history.

Our History

Named for a Virginia hunter back in the 1800s, the gold rush made John Day home to some of the richest gold deposits in western U.S History, resulting in a boom of settlers and population. Once home to a thriving Chinese immigrant population, courtesy of local businessmen Lung On and Ing Hay, a national monument still exists in town to this day.  Kam Wah Chung & Co. Museum was a Chinese medical clinic, general store and community center. It is now an internationally recognized National Historic Landmark and draws thousands of visitors a year. 
A classic American frontier town, John Day continued to make a name for itself in the timber industry through the 1990s and has since shifted to become a central hub for outdoor recreation in the region. As a beacon of small town living, John Day has stood the test of time as other small towns across the country have disappeared from the map, and it will remain for generations to come. 


Where should I stay while I’m in town?

With a host hotels, motels and rental properties, John Day has options for every type of visitor. Enjoy camping? Stay in Grant County RV campgrounds and set your own pace of vacation.

What kind of activities are there in John Day?

Whether you love to fish or sky, take your ATV out for a spin or go hunting, love to mountain bike or hike the woods, John Day and the surrounding area has you covered. Learn more here.

Was John Day a real historical figure?

The short answer is yes.

Little is known about the man for whom a river, a dam and two towns (John Day and Dayville) were named.  The following story is based on historical fact - some of it may be true. Pictured to the left is an illustration of what John Day might have looked liked.

John Day was a hunter from the backwoods of Virginia.  He had been employed by Ramsay Crooks for several years when he arrived in Oregon, at about 40 years of age.  He was described as "six feet two inches tall, a handsome man with a manly countenance, straight as an Indian with an elastic step 'as if he trod on springs'".  It was his boast that in his younger days nothing could hurt or daunt him, but he had lived too fast and injured his constitution by excesses.  Still, he was strong of hand, bold of heart, a prime woodsman, and an almost unerring shot.


When is the Grant County Fair?

The Grant County Fair is hosted at the John Day Fairgrounds every year in August. Consult the Grant County Chamber of Commerce site for more details on local events.

How far is Magone Lake?

Magone Lake is 25 miles from John Day and is the perfect destination for a day on the water.  The high elevation makes the lake up to 10 degrees cooler which is ideal on hot summer days.  From John Day, Oregon, take U.S. Highway 26 east for approximately 9 miles. At the junction of County Road 18, travel north approximately 10 miles. At Forest Road 3620, turn west and drive approximately 1 mile to Forest Road 3618. The campground is about 1 mile from the turnoff.