La Grande is located in Union County
, between Pendleton
and Baker City
along Interstate 84
and the banks of the Grande Ronde River
Early emigrants following the Oregon Trail passed through the Grande Ronde Valley and rested in the present site of La Grande before climbing the Blue Mountains and proceeding on to their dream lands in the Willamette Valley. Many pioneer journals express the traveler's delight in coming to the beautiful valley after months of hot and dusty travel. The discovery of gold in Baker County created a market for agricultural products and led to settlement in the fertile Grande Ronde Valley in the 1860s. Agriculture and forest products still play an important role in the local economy, but the city is also an important regional center for education, health care, manufacturing, professional services, government agencies and retail. Pristine lakes, rushing rivers, sage covered range lands, and a huge, fertile valley ringed by snow-capped mountains make the landscape in La Grande diverse and beautiful.