Donner Memorial California State Park

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Donner Memorial State Park

Donner Memorial State Park, not a far drive from Lake Tahoe, offers the ideal destination for lovely pine forest walks, Sierra landscapes, lake activities and historic sites to enjoy.

  • Enjoy the Sierra landscapes and lake activities at Donner Memorial State Park
  • Only a short drive from Lake Tahoe
  • Donner State Park is open all year
  • Learn much of the history of the region by touring the Emigrant Trail Museum
  • Camp in the park with access to a nice beach

Overview

Donner State Park is just south of Truckee, California, and a short drive from Lake Tahoe. The whole family will enjoy the three miles of lake frontage on Donner Lake, memorials of historic significance and the many activities both in summer and winter.

Location & Information

Donner Memorial Park is just off of Interstate 80, west of downtown Truckee, California, on the south side of the highway.

The park is open all year, but the best time to come is in summer, with the mild temperatures making it a perfect outing. The museum is open year-round, with daily hours of 9 am to 4 pm.

Contact information:

Donner Memorial State Park
12593 Donner Pass Road
Truckee, CA 96161
530-582-7892
Website: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=503

Activities

Visiting Donner Memorial State Park gives the traveler the flavor of the Old West and pioneer adventures in the Sierras.

  • Pioneer Monument
    Located next to the visitor center, the Pioneer Monument stands in commemoration of the Donner Party and shows the height of the snow in that fateful winter in 1846.
  • Emigrant Trail Museum
    Tour the Emigrant Trail Museum and enjoy the displays of history of this Sierra spot. Early settlers passed through here as they traveled from the east. You’ll also learn much of the cultural and natural history of the area.
  • Hiking
    Hike through the pine and fir forests that surround Donner Lake. You can take the Lakeshore Interpretive Trail with trailside exhibits that tell of this region and its history and natural resources. This trail is easy for both adults and children – only 2.5 miles long. You are bound to see some wildlife, such as chipmunks, raccoons and deer. The other trail you may enjoy is the Nature Trail, only 0.5 miles roundtrip. It takes you to Donner Creek.
  • Lake Activities
    For some water fun, Donner Lake can’t be beat! Fish for trout and Kokanee salmon. You can launch a boat from the northwest corner of the lake for a small fee. Take out your powerboat or sailboat for a sunny day on the lake.
  • Camping
    Summer camping is great here, with 154 sites to choose from, with picnic tables, restrooms, and giving easy access to a beach and plenty of fishing spots.

Fun Facts

The area is famous for the ill-fated Donner Party, a group of midwestern families who were traveling across the Sierra to make a new home in California. They were trapped here by a large snowstorm in the winter of 1846/1847. Nearly half of these brave settlers perished. You can learn the full story by visiting the Emigrant Museum in the park.

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