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“small museum yet informative” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Donner Memorial State Park and Emigrant Trail Museum

Donner Memorial State Park and Emigrant Trail Museum
12593 Donner Pass Rd, Truckee, CA 96161-3858
+1 530 582 7892
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Ranked #1 of 47 things to do in Truckee
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: This museum documents the fascinating and tragic history of the Donner Party's journey to the west coast.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Level Contributor
40 reviews
24 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“small museum yet informative”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 19, 2013

Think I am giving the museum three stars because I had visited the CA Trail Interpretive Ctr, in Elko, NV, which is newer & more comprehensive in its presentations. For a small museum, I think the staff is just trying to keep up. Where the laminated reading material was difficult to read due to reflection, they also had a button so that one could hear the commentary instead. I cannot really complain about the museum, knowing what their funding is. But I really wanted somebody to clean the cobwebs off the mannequins, which is easy to do. I also wandered outdoors to visit the statue & the site where one cabin had once stood. Think we're all still engrossed with the fate of this group of emigrants- I wish I could have explored the greater park as well, but I had to go back on my own trail.

Visited June 2013
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Thank bettyg223
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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275 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Truckee, California
Level Contributor
25 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Donner Lake”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 4, 2013

Great spot for hanging out at the beach. Beautiful mountain lake. They are building a new museum to honor the emigrants of the 1840's including the infamous Donner Party.
A must when in Truckee in the summer.

Visited June 2013
Helpful?
Thank Jake M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
66 reviews
21 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
“Interesting History of the Donner Party”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 28, 2013

This is a beautiful state park and museum. Visit the monument which details how high the snow was when the Donner party was trapped in this area long ago. Visit the museum and see the story of the Donner party. There is a small fee but well worth it.

Visited May 2013
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1 Thank Bes9002
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
117 reviews
54 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 79 helpful votes
“Enjoyed ourselves more that we anticipated”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 1, 2013

I have an interest in the Donner Party tragedy, and wanted to check this out while we were driving around Lake Tahoe. The hubby had little or no interest, but agreed to make the stop. First of all, the information and sights regarding the Donner Party was great. Yes, the film was old, but really interesting and we both enjoyed it. The museum was pretty uninspiring though, but hopefully this will be improved when the new center opens soon. But then we walked the Nature Trail, and that was lovely. Very pretty and interesting, even though we were there before all the wildflowers.

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank CathyFitz2451
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Diego, California
Level Contributor
10 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“In transition”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 5, 2013

What some of the really low marks have said is true. The film they show in the museum is really really old so the production value is really outdated. Some thing goes for the display(s) of the story and artifacts from the time period. And if you haven't been here before it can be a little hard to figure out where things are, what is available to do and all the possible things to see are.

That being said... They are in process of building a completely new museum that I think will be open in three months with what I am assuming will be brand new displays and movie among other things. So in a short time all those negative reviews will have to be reevaluted.

Meanwhile, it is a really interesting and compelling piece of history. Once you get past the laughable "movie" quality the story itself is fascinating. Same with the displays.

And half of the visit is walking the trail right outside the museum but ALSO the paths around Donner Lake itself. That part is beautiful and a lot a amenities that would be awesome in warmer weather (like picnic benches, BBQs and other things.)

Enjoyable visit that will be even better a few months from now.

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank jeffcomedy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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