Donner Memorial State Park

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General Information

Donner Memorial State Park is located in Northern California, near the border with Nevada, along the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountain range. Thanks to the high elevation of the Sierras, there are plenty of Winter-based activities available at the park in addition to the many year-round activities that are available here and in many other California parks as well.

Summer recreational activities include camping, picnicking, boating, fishing, water-skiing, and hiking. Winter activities include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowboarding.

There are also a few museums at the park: The Emigrant Trail Museum and at the Pioneer Monument, built to remember the early western migrants to California who had to cross the Sierras on their way to California coast during the gold rush, in search of gold.

To the north of the park is also Donner Lake, which is a great compliment to the park. Donner Lake offers various water-based recreational activities such as swimming and boating.


We currently do not have any record of trailheads in this park.

Routes and Trails You Can Travel

We currently do not have any record of good routes in this park.


The park isn't a hiker's heaven. There are only a few miles of real hiking trails here, so any hiking would not be for strenuous exercise, but more for pleasant and leisurely walk to experience the beauty of the area.

As far as hiking trails go, there is the primary Emigrant Trail, which leads up to U.S. Forest Service and the Pacific Crest trails beyond the park.


Climate and Weather

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The climate of the park is largely affected by the high elevations of the Sierra Mountain Range. During the Summer, temperatures can be pleasantly warm enough to go swimming at nearby Donner Lake, or go hiking. It doesn't get extremely hot in this area.

During the Winter, the area can get quite cold, and experience large snow fall.


The park gets its name from the Donner Party who were one of the earlier people to make the trek west to California. Conditions of crossing the country were quite harsh and the trip was arduous. You can imagine how difficult it must have been to just cross the Sierra Mountain Range. But people crossed not only the Sierras, but the entire country.

There is a monument at the park to commemorate the brave people who made the journey west. In the museum at the park, visitors can find information about one of the earliest pioneer wagon trains, the Donner Party, who were tragically forced to camp at the east end of Donner Lake in the winter of 1846-47.

The park has another, different kind of history. The geological makeup of the park dates back many thousands of years and offers visitors plenty of learning opportunities. At some places in the park, you can see granite that rose within the crust of the earth and older sedimentary rocks. You can also see traces of the glaciers that dominated the area a few thousand years ago, which left huge boulders and debris that remained when the ice melted.


The park is home to a wide array of wildlife. Some of the wildlife is big and dangerous, like the bears who live in the area. If you are hiking or camping in the area, please familiarize yourself with important safety information regarding what to do if you encounter any of the large animals on your visit here.




Other Plants

Camping Possibilities

Camping is possible at Donner Memorial State Park. But be careful, there are bears in the area. Campers must place all their food into special metal foot lockers that are made to withstand a bear's attempt to get to the food. These food lockers are available at each camp site.

Additionally, campers must be prepared and educated on what to do in case they encounter a live bear in the area.

Other Information

Fishing is popular at Donner Lake and Donner Creek. Some of the fish that can be found there are native kokanee and planted trout. You must have a fishing license in order to fish here.


Driving Directions

The park is accessible via Interstate 80. It is located near a small town called Truckee, California which is about 100 miles east of Sacramento, not far from the border to Nevada further east.

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Hiking or Walking Groups Nearby

Group Name: Sacramento Backpacking

Group Description: Sacramento-area based group with a preference for multiple-day excursions into the backcountry.

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Past Hikes

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