Sunriver is located on the grounds of the former Camp Abbot, a World War II training facility designed to train combat engineers in a simulated combat environment. The U.S. Army camp opened in 1942, but by June 1944 the camp was abandoned and most of the settlement was razed.
The Officers' Club was spared; it has been preserved and renovated and is now known as the "Great Hall," under management of Sunriver Resort. The name "Sunriver" was selected by developers John Gray and Donald V. McCallum. The initial condominiums were built in 1968 in conjunction with the completion of Sunriver Lodge, and in 1969 the master plan was completed and developers began selling lots.
Sunriver was also the site of the pioneer Shonquest Ranch. Sunriver post office was established on July 18, 1969, at the same time as the public facilities were opened.
During the filming of Rooster Cogburn in autumn 1974, both of its 67-year-old stars, John Wayne and Katharine Hepburn, stayed at private homes in Sunriver. Governor Tom McCall flew in for a brief visit with them in early October.