Dayton is a census-designated place (CDP) in Lyon County, Nevada, United States. The population was 5,907 at the 2000 census.
Dayton is at the western end of the Twenty-Six Mile Desert at a bend in the Carson River. Immigrants stopping there for water would consider whether to follow the river south or continue west, giving the location its first name, Ponderers Rest. In 1849, Abner Blackburn, while heading for California, discovered a gold nugget in nearby Gold Creek, one of the tributaries of the Carson River.
By 1850, placer miners settled at the mouth of Gold Canyon, working sand bars deposited over the millennia along the path of the creek. Because many Chinese immigrants eventually lived there, some called the community "Chinatown," but it also went by several other names. In 1861, the town officially adopted the name Dayton, after John Day, a local surveyor.