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Donner Memorial State Park and Emigrant Trail Museum
Ranked #1 of 48 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.
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
86 reviews
31 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
“Worth A Stop”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 29, 2013

While the museum could be better, this was still an interesting stop to see the statue, just think about the snow being as high as the base of the statue. Donner Lake was pretty. Also make sure you do the short walk into the woods to see another cabin site from the Donner Party, which used a large boulder (still there and marked with a plaque) as one the walls/fireplace. If you're not sure where to walk, just ask at the museum. There is another site where the actual Donner family stayed, but I didn't stop there and I forgot to ask about it's location at the museum. I'm not sure what's there. It was interesting drive in on I-80, thinking of pioneers trying to cross that summit.

As far as parking goes, there were plenty of spots in the afternoon. I could see how the middle of the day or on the weekend might be a problem parking, but I think early or late is a good rule. If you can't time your visit first thing in the morning, maybe you should aim for later in the day. We stopped at around 4pm, and the parking lot was almost empty and the woods and lake were pretty quiet.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank DaisyB7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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290 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Truckee, California, United States
Level Contributor
53 reviews
20 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Great place to hike, bike and swim”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 29, 2013

We walk through the park frequently and take our dogs swimming on the shore of Donner Lake. The museum is being rebuilt and due to open Fall 2013, we have also camped there. Very nice, roomy and shady campsites. Only complaint was the all night highway 80 traffic noise.

Visited June 2013
Helpful?
Thank Sue K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level Contributor
11 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Disappointing museum”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed July 17, 2013

This state park is over-rated for visitors. While it may be an excellent place to camp and hike (Donner Lake is near the visitor center and is beautiful), the visitor experience is very weak.

Let me say I don't mind spending $8 to park. The CA state park system is short of funds, so I'm willing to pay my part. What I do mind is a poorly organized museum that relies mainly on long written plaques. Very non-interactive. Also, there's a shortage of information about the Donner Party - which was our main reason for visiting.

A very pleasant nature walk outside, but again, there's very little information. Surely, the CA state park team can do a better job for a site of such historical importance.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank ChrisXL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Donner Memorial State Park Camping”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed July 14, 2013

We stayed at this campground for 3 nights. It is a beautiful state park , it's just to bad the staff wasn't as nice. They are very rude and treated our family with disrespect. The restrooms were disgusting, with feces and urine all over. Granted, this is 95 percent people but, there is no hand soap, no towels or hand dryers and at times no toilet paper. My husband and I had to take our own cleaning products to clean in order for our granddaughters to be able to use it. I will think twice before I go back to this campground.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
Thank Judy and Mike D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
21 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Beautiful”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 11, 2013

We frequent Truckee/Donner a few times a year. This time we decided to camp instead of rent a cabin. The info on the Donner party is interesting and you can find several info boards on the Lakeshore Interpretive Trail which is about 2.5 miles round trip. The campsites were clean, hosts friendly and hot showers which was not bad at a price of 0.50 for 5 mins but at the calm of night you can hear the highway. We rented some paddle boats and paddle boards which was a great deal at $20.00 an hr.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
Thank VacaAtLast
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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