For much of the outside world, Grant County may seem like uncharted territory. It’s a little-known part of Oregon. Although vast—it sprawls over 4,500 square miles—the county is remote from more urban parts of Oregon. No freeway or railroad runs through it. You can’t drive in from north, south, east, or west without first crossing a 5,000-foot pass. Yet those who don’t mind sharing a country road with a cattle drive, or pausing for a herd of elk, or stopping on the highway for a county fair parade, find it well worth the effort.

The county has over 200 days of sunshine, and another 100 partially sunny days a year–making it perfect for wonderful outdoor summer adventures, be it hiking, fishing, biking, bird watching, kayaking, wildlife viewing, camping, horseback riding, or geocaching. There are hiking trails, rating from easy to hard, taking you to pristine alpine lakes and forest peaks, or through stunning geologic formations and to remote campsites. Take your pick. There are ponds, rivers, and lakes to try your hand at fishing. Or to take a dip on a hot summer day. 

Bicycle Trail

How about a cycling route or loop? Grant County is revered among road cyclists for its rural highways that include a leg of the Trans American Bicycle Trail, while there are plenty of gravel roads and trails to please cyclists looking for non-paved adventure.

There’s a wealth of the old west awaiting you here—think gold rush, ancient fossils, timber, and cattle barons and so much more. Gold was discovered on Whiskey Flat in 1862 and miners rushed in to make it rich, and some did. Over $20 million in gold was mined from the Canyon City and Susanville areas. For a glimpse of that by gone era, check out the Grant County Historical Museum, Grant County Ranch and Rodeo Museum, or the Cant Ranch Historic Home and Museum.

You don’t want to miss the internationally renowned John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, where you can hike through stunning geologic formations and watch archaeologists at work, uncovering the secrets of the Age of Mammals. ( Here there is a fossil record spanning forty million years of the Age of Mammals. Nowhere else in the western hemisphere is an evolutionary story preserved that captures this much time.

Museum and State Heritage

And, of course, you absolutely must see the Kam Wah Chung Museum and State Heritage Site, offering a look into a little-known historic era, exploring the Chinese experience in the old west and in John Day. Here Chinese herbal doctor, Ing Hay, administered traditional Chinese remedies to the Chinese gold-mine workers, pioneers, and others.

As much as its stunning and varied scenery, there’s a sense of solitude that touches visitors to Grant County Oregon. And it keeps them coming back. Vast and remote, the wildlife far outnumbers its 7,000 human residents. It’s a place where you can enjoy a family picnic at a mountain lake. View the Milky Way in all its brilliance at night, fish a quiet stream, and motor to stunning views—without the press of crowds and urban cares.

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To kick off your explorations, contact the Grant County Chamber of Commerce, call for information 541-575-0547 or visit The website gives up-to-date information about the region’s museums and their hours, hiking trails, maps. And a brief overview of the history. They also have a list of accommodations and eateries in the area. Check with the chamber for other information like bike routes/maps, wildlife, Forest Service Campgrounds, RV parks around the county and any happenings in the area.