Donner Memorial State Park

Lake Tahoe + Northern Sierra, California

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Donner Memorial State Park

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  • Looking down Donner Lake from near China Cove. Donner Peak (8,020') stands tall center left, rising above the notch of Donner Pass.- Donner Memorial State Park
  • China Cove is home to a popular swimming beach.- Donner Memorial State Park
  • Day use and picnic area at the Donner Creek outlet.- Donner Memorial State Park
  • The Donner Creek outlet is a big draw in summer.- Donner Memorial State Park
  • Fishing in July on Donner Creek.- Donner Memorial State Park
  • A floatilla of stand-up paddleboards on Donner Lake.- Donner Memorial State Park
  • The park provides lakeside picnic areas with diablo grills and fantastic views. - Donner Memorial State Park
  • Lakeside Interprative Trail.- Donner Memorial State Park
  • Looking west across Donner Lake from Donner Memorial State Park.- Donner Memorial State Park
  • Lakeside Interprative Trail.- Donner Memorial State Park
  • Small boat rentals and SUPs are available during the summer months at Donner Memorial State Park.- Donner Memorial State Park
  • The Pioneer Monument Statue is dedicated to the pioneers who journeyed to California overland. The statue looks west toward Donner Summit.- Donner Memorial State Park
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Donner Lake swimming and boat access. Winter cross-country and snowshoe trails.
Cons: 
None.
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Region:
Lake Tahoe + Northern Sierra, CA
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
State Park Fee
Preferable Season(s):
Summer
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Team

Most have heard of the Donner Party, the unfortunate group of pioneers heading for California country that became stranded near the east side of Donner Pass in 1846 by early storms and a massive Sierra snowfall. Donner Memorial State Park was established as a memorial for the Donner Party and all the emigrant pioneers that traveled overland to California.

Offering a nice balance of outdoor recreation options and California pioneer history, the state park wraps from Donner’s east shore around the north facing slopes above the south shore and a smaller portion of land on the west end of the lake. The hub of activity is centered around the park’s entrance and the east shore of the lake, where the Emigrant Trail Museum, campground and day use beaches are located.

Primarily a summer destination popular with campers, swimmers, and beachgoers enjoying the setting of Donner Lake, the park also hosts a network of winter cross-country and snowshoe trails.

In summer the beaches at China Cove and the Donner Creek Outlet are a big draw, and small boat rentals are available. Lakeside picnic areas offer fantastic views toward Donner Pass. Summer trails include hikes along the lakeside Interpretive Trail and the Old Emigrant Trail Road that contours along the slope above Donner Lake. The park’s 150-site campground lies within a short walking distance of the lake and is well suited for family camping.

Park facilities, other than the museum, are closed by mid-September and do not open again until late May. Dogs are permitted in developed areas of the park.

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Location + Directions

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(26 within a 30 mile radius)

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(101 within a 30 mile radius)

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