Offering classes and community for artists of all ages, the Painted Sky Center for the Arts is located in neighboring Canyon City. Classes and studio space supporting work in ceramics, oil painting, leather working and the performing arts. A dedicated staff facilitates the creative development of kids, young adults and life long learned alike. Learn more about what is offered, or the next arts opening below.
Popular for all ages are the dirt trails radiating out from John Day. Whether on a trusty rusty old school bomber or the latest electric-powered carbon fiber machine, it’s a good time all around. Investment in trails by the City can be enjoyed John Day bike park off of Well Road. For an especially pretty ride, new trails follow along the river and connect attractions in the community.
During the Gold Rush of the late 1800’s Chinese immigrants came to the area to work. At that time, the Chinese population of John Day was the largest outside of San Francisco. A surprising local treasure, and National Historic Landmark, a small trading store has been preserved undisturbed since being sealed in the 1940’s. This compact building serves as a time capsule as well as a look into Chinese American culture of the day. Open for visiting between May and the end of October, a virtual tour is also available.
Learn more about Kam Wah Chung by watching an Emmy-nominated documentary produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting.
The longest continually running fair in Oregon, The Grant County Fair is the highlight of the summer. Held on the fairgrounds in the center of John Day, along the river, families enjoy a rodeo, carnival rides, amusements and live music and much more. The 4H livestock competition recognizes the traditions of animal husbandry of the area and welcomes the next generation of into a strong community of proud ranchers and farmers.
Located 45 min drive west of the City is the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. A dynamic visitor center brings the past alive and is a perfect stop for families on the long car ride. This is a working research center where paleontologists are actively doing fossil science in a lab setting visible to visitors. Admission is free to the Center and visits can be as short or in-depth as you please. Beyond the center are the actual fossil beds, The Clarno Unit, the Sheep Rock Unit and the Painted Hills, for trail hiking and exploration.
The John Day greenhouse is a community supported agriculture project to provide fresh produce spur new approaches to commercial agriculture. The greenhouse is over 6,000 square feet in size and features automated management of temperature, humidity, CO2, irrigation and fertilizer. Utilizing hydroponic growing bays and vertical space, the plants reach to over 12’ tall in the warm and sunlit space, year round.
Freshly constructed walking and hiking trails lay throughout the City footprint as evidence of the investment in public spaces. For those seeking a bit stronger of a workout there are the new trails at Davis Creek Park with some steeper stair climbs and a rewarding lookout.
A quick drive on some dirt roads arrives you at a gorgeous mountain lake. Offering camping, picnic and BBQ stations and a sand beach, a visit to the lake is a perfect plan for a summer day. Popular for swimming or floating, be mindful of swimming safety for yourself and loved ones. Be sure to pack sunscreen and towels and enjoy a perfect respite from the rest of the world.
Winter brings a whole different style of excitement to the back country of John Day. High altitude and cold months combine for a solid snowpack which lasts late into the year. The local snow mobile club (name) leads the way by grooming trails and expanding the trail system. For new riders, a good place to start is XXXX or XXXX, while more advance riders should consider XXXX and XXXX.
The Strawberry Mountains are located southeast of John Day, Oregon, in the Malheur National Forest. The prominent range contains a 69,000-acre wilderness area and provides numerous recreation opportunities. Most visitors enjoy the area between the months of June and October. Enjoy rugged hiking at elevations ranging from 4,000 ft to the 9,038-foot summit of Strawberry Mountain. Over a hundred miles of trails cross the wilderness, offering vista after vista to the enterprising hiker.
Use of motor vehicles and motorized equipment in wilderness areas is prohibited. See https://wilderness.net/learn-about-wilderness/regulations.php for additional information.
Seek and find wildlife in its natural surroundings. Black Bears, Elk, Eagles and so much more, making their livelihoods in the untrammeled wilderness surrounding John Day. Depending on the season, you can drive a good distance into the wilderness, or when snow is on the ground, you will need to hike or even snowshoe. Beautiful and inspiring sights await.
Unlimited dirt trails await just beyond the bounds of the City of John Day. Most require you trailer to the trailhead, and from there you’re free to explore. Be sure to remain in control of your vehicles and knowledgable of your route, as this is as remote as you’ll find in the State of Oregon. Advice and vehicles can be sourced from the Polaris dealership in town.
Life in cities is becoming unlivable. Discover for yourself the magic of a small town resonant with classic values and shared experiences. For kids, it’s both support and responsibility. For grandparents there’s a social fabric you can participate in. It’s not policies which make a place inclusive, it’s space, pacing and genuine human connections.
A Farmers’ Market and the local greenhouse promote healthy eating habits and bring together neighbors. Community health is promoted by County services for mental health and family needs, and the local hospital and pet care are reliable and robust.
Smart local leadership has invested in cultural attractions, blistering fast internet access and development targets to provide robust employment. Located a half-day’s drive from Portland, you only feel worlds apart.
Traditions have emerged for each season. In the winter there is the Timber Truckers Light Parade to look forward to. In the summer it’s the Grant County Fair followed by the John Day Demolition Derby. Loud and rough, this event is known to regress grown men to squealing pre-pubescent boys.