Donner Memorial State Park and Scenic Donner Lake – Lake Tahoe

Donner Lake Tahoe

Donner Memorial State Park is located in the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains. Donner Memorial State Park offers the many summer vacationers opportunities for camping, picnicking, boating, fishing, water-skiing, and hiking.

In the winter, visitors can cross-country ski and snowshoe on trails and enjoy the season’s beauty.

Visitors to Donner Memorial State Park are welcome year-round at the Emigrant Trail Museum and at the Pioneer Monument, built to commemorate those who emigrated to California from the east in the mid-1800’s.

Included in the museum are displays and information about one of the earliest pioneer wagon trains, the Donner Party, forced by circumstances to camp at the east end of Donner Lake in the winter of 1846-47, resulting in human suffering and loss of life.

If you are visiting the Lake Tahoe area, be sure to see the following Donner Memorial State Park and Donner Lake visitor attractions:

Public Boat Ramp –
While the park has no boat launching ramp, a public ramp operated by the Truckee Donner Recreation & Parks District is available in the northwest corner of Donner Lake. There is a fee charged for boat launching. For information call (530) 582-7720. The lake is open to both power and sail boats.

The park has over three miles of frontage on Donner Lake and Donner Creek. Although the fishing is not usually spectacular, the lake has some native kokanee and planted trout. A fishing license is required. (Many fishermen prefer to use the park as a base to visit nearby lakes).

Hiking Trails
The park has about 2.5 miles (4 km.) of hiking trails. Park property in Coldstream Canyon to the south contains the alignment of the primary Emigrant Trail, which leads up to U.S. Forest Service and the Pacific Crest trails beyond the park. Maps are for sale at the Emigrant Trail Museum.

Camping and Day Use –
Located at Donner Memorial State Park is a campground of 154 sites and a day-use area along the lake with picnic tables, restrooms, a beach, fishing, and a lakeside interpretive trail that has 18 panels which discuss the natural and cultural resources in the area.

Emigrant Trail Museum –
The Emigrant Trail Museum, located at Donner Memorial State Park, takes about 1 hour to visit. It depicts the history of the area and the people who came into this part of the Sierra, including local Native Americans, the Donner Party, and builders of the transcontinental railroad. Postcards, posters, maps, and books about the human and natural history of the area are for sale at the museum.

Pioneer Monument –
Near the museum is the Pioneer Monument and the Donner Party’s Murphy family cabin site. Also starting at the museum is a self-guiding nature trail which is a one half mile loop. Nature trail guides are available at the museum and campground entrance station. Staff-led hikes, special feature shows, and campfires start in late June. Hikes, ranging from 1 – 2 hours, start at the museum at 10:00 a.m.


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