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California Trail Historic Interpretive Center
Elko, NV
+1 775-738-1849
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Ranked #1 of 6 things to do in Elko
Attraction details
Mid Florida, Florida
Top Contributor
54 reviews 54 reviews
16 attraction reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
“Excellent!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 8, 2014

A good combination - informative and FREE! Very good presentation on the Donner Expedition. Excellent dioramas. Well-informed personnel and demonstrators. Hiking trails. It's only a short drive west from Elko. I highly recommend this!

Visited July 2014
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77 reviews from our community

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English first
Northridge, CA
Top Contributor
219 reviews 219 reviews
118 attraction reviews
Reviews in 90 cities Reviews in 90 cities
63 helpful votes 63 helpful votes
“Stop here and do not pass Go!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 7, 2014

Great museum! Very, Very interesting and informative! A good place to stop with the whole family. Very much worth the time!

Visited June 2014
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sf Bay Area
Top Contributor
172 reviews 172 reviews
43 attraction reviews
Reviews in 75 cities Reviews in 75 cities
132 helpful votes 132 helpful votes
“surprising gem along the freeway”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 5, 2014

This was the big surprise during a week long trip through Nevada. We went in expecting some pathetic tiny museum, and instead found really well designed exhibits in a great space. The exhibits were engaging, and nicely written. I'd say that anyone with a passing interest in US history would find this museum a worthwhile use of their time. We spent about an hour there, and left quite pleased. The fact that its free is an added bonus.

Visited July 2014
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Chicago
Top Contributor
73 reviews 73 reviews
30 attraction reviews
Reviews in 36 cities Reviews in 36 cities
46 helpful votes 46 helpful votes
“An absolute must see”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 30, 2014

We have all heard about the trails some of our ancestors used to settle the West. The Center gives an excellent history and description of what our ancestors must have gone through to travel westward. Well done. There is nothing negative I can say about the Center. It is a must see.

Visited June 2014
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Green Valley, Arizona
Top Contributor
281 reviews 281 reviews
133 attraction reviews
Reviews in 165 cities Reviews in 165 cities
285 helpful votes 285 helpful votes
“Impressive-Save Time For the Outdoor Exhibits and Trails Too”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 29, 2014

This new (only two years old) Interpretive Center located eight miles west of Elko, Nevada at Exit 292 on I-80 (Hunter exit) is administered by the BLM and is free. I recommend calling ahead for hours as they vary throughout the year and you do not want to miss this place. However, if you are passing through when the Center is closed, still pull off as there are some interpretive signs you can read before you reach the locked gate. Also, if you are entering I-80 to go eastbound, there is a marker at the top of the entrance pointing out the Hastings Cutoff which the Donner-Reed Party took.

Outside are many interesting exhibits and artwork along with a variety of trails, many of which are ADA compliant.

The Center really gave me a feel for what the emigrants experienced-especially the Bidwell-Bartelson Party which was the first to have women and children and the Donner-Reed Party known for showing the dangers of poor planning and making wrong decisions along the Trail.

Exhibits are not the usual ones. One allows you to try to trade a horse with an Indian using sign language, another compares the time and speed of various means of transportation to cross the California Trail from the oxen (4-5 months at 2 miles per hour to the jets of today that make the trip in 3 hours and 45 minutes at 533 miles per hour. The most realistic was at the 40 Mile Desert exhibit where you could press a button and actually smell what it was like for the travelers.

Kids can have fun trying on clothing of the day or packing a wagon. The impact of the emigrants on the Indians is shown. The Donner-Reed Party experience is handled tastefully in a separate room with a sign warning the contents may be disturbing to some guests. The material is shown with great special effects.

Depending on your interest, you could easily spend half a day here (especially if you took some of the trails), or you could look quickly at everything and be done in an hour. There is a gift shop but no place to buy food.

Visited June 2014
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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