Donner Lake California Fishing, Camping, Boating

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Donner Lake

Donner Lake sits along the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, only 15 miles from Lake Tahoe, and is a famous spot for boating, fishing, camping and much more.

  • Donner Lake offers superb recreation along the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains
  • Only 15 miles from Lake Tahoe
  • The lake is accessible all year
  • Fish for rainbow, brown trout or Kokanee salmon
  • Sail on the blue waters to soak up the sun
  • Camp at Donner Memorial State Park


Donner Lake CA is the perfect home base for your Tahoe vacation, with convenient campsites and fewer crowds than Lake Tahoe. Explore this fascinating area during the day, or travel the short distance to Lake Tahoe to explore there, then camp out under the stars at Donner Memorial State Park and enjoy the fresh, pine-scented air.

Location & Information

Donner Lake California is along Interstate 80 just west of Truckee, California. It’s about 14.8 miles from Lake Tahoe by taking California Highway 267 from Kings Beach to Truckee. The drive takes about 22 minutes.

Donner Lake is accessible all year.

Contact information: Donner Memorial State Park at Donner Lake 530-582-7892


  • Visit the Pioneer Monument
    When you stop at the Pioneer Monument, you will see how the statue is positioned to indicate how high the snow was when the ill-fated Donner Party stopped here in 1846.
  • Tour the Emigrant Trail Museum
    Enjoy many displays of history at the Emigrant Trail Museum. This lakeside museum offers a look into the natural and cultural history of this area.
  • Hiking
    As you hike through the forests surrounding Donner Lake you can take in the beauty of the Sierra Nevada landscapes, so unique and diverse. You are bound to see some of the wildlife that make their home here, too. One short nature trail takes you to Donner Creek and is only 0.5 miles long, so it’s easy for the whole family.
  • Fishing
    Donner Lake fishing offers up some rainbow, brown trout and fabulous Kokanee salmon. You many also catch some trophy lake trout.
  • Boating
    Find the public boat ramp (for a small fee) in the northwest corner of Donner Lake and get out there in the sun on a motor or sail boat.
  • Swimming
    In the state park on the east end, and on the west and north shores of the lake, you’ll find swimming is superb. The water is cold, however, so be ready for it.
  • Camping
    Donner Lake camping at the state park on the shore of Donner Lake is excellent. Walk through the forested campground and to the lake for easy access to a beach and fishing. You have 154 sites to choose from, with picnic tables and grills for eating outside.

Fun Facts

Donner Lake was named for the Donner Party, many of whom met their death in 1846 at this then remote location. You can learn their story and others’ stories at the Emigrant Trail Museum in Donner Memorial State Park.