La Grande, the seat of Union County, is nestled in the eastern foothills of the Blue Mountains. Situated in the Grande Ronde Valley, La Grande is the third largest city in eastern Oregon, with an estimated population of 13,000. The City of La Grande is the economic, educational, recreational, and cultural hub for eastern Oregon, with a family oriented, small-town character. La Grande offers a unique blend of country-casual and urban culture, thanks in part to the presence of Eastern Oregon University. La Grande, whose nickname is “The Hub City,” hosts the Eastern Oregon Film Festival, the Crossing the Blues Arts festival, and the Grande Ronde Symphony Orchestra. Concerts, plays and art exhibits take place throughout the year, and a burgeoning art community offers studio tours and Third Thursday gallery events. The Oregon Trail Interpretive Park at Blue Mountain Crossing, the Union County Museum, the Eastern Oregon Fire Museum, the Elgin Opera House and the Elgin Museum & Historical Society highlight the area’s fascinating history.
With its proximity to the Blue and the Wallowa Mountains, La Grande is a popular year-round destination for outdoor enthusiasts, including hunters, campers, mushroomers, birders, cyclists, skiers, snowmobilers, and snowboarders. Nearby Anthony Lakes Ski Resort boasts some of the best powder snow in the Intermountain West. Five miles south of La Grande, the 6,000-acre Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area, a popular destination for birdwatchers and hunters, is the largest hardstem bulrush marsh in northeastern Oregon, offering a glimpse of what the valley was like before agricultural development.