Donner Lake is one of the most scenic places the Tahoe area has to offer. Located in Truckee, Donner Memorial State Park offers numerous activities year round. The summer vacationer opportunities for camping, picnicking, boating, fishing, water-skiing, and hiking. It's also offers a spectacular firework show during 4th of July. In winter, visitors can cross-country ski and snowshoe on trails and enjoy the season's beauty.
Visitors are welcome year-round at the Donner Memorial State Park Visitor Center and at the Pioneer Monument, built to commemorate those who emigrated to California from the east in the mid-1800's. The Visitor Center features compelling new exhibits that tell the stories of the Emigrant Experience, the Donner Party, the Land of the Washoe, Chinese construction of the railroad, and early motoring adventures over Donner Pass.
The park encompasses Schallenberger Ridge to the south of Donner Lake. In and around the park you can see some of the Sierra Nevada's geologic history:
- The granite that rose within the crust of the earth in enormous bubbles, then cooled and hardened, to be exposed by erosion.
- The older sedimentary rocks, transformed by temperature and pressure.
- The Sierra's steep eastern face, created when gigantic upheavals tilted a section of the earth's crust.
- The glaciers that dominated the area a few thousand years ago have left huge boulders and debris that remained when the ice melted.
Beach & Pier Access
There are 37 public piers availalbe for use spread out along Donner Pass Rd. on the North Side of the lake. Enjoy some sun rays, have a picnic, and take a dip in the lake from the piers provided by TDRPD.
Donner Lake's West End Beach is nestled on the West Shore of Donner Lake. West End Beach is a 10 acre day use beach facility, which offers excellent shaded picnic and barbeque sites for families or groups. You will also find a playground, basketball courts, tennis courts, boat rentals, and a snack bar.
Shoreline Park is located off of Donner Pass Road about halfway down the lake. Shoreline Park offers several picnic tables, a BBQ and a restroom. The small boat ramp makes for an easy launch of your kayaks and paddleboards, and the small fishing pier provides great views of the lake while cast into the lake. There are also several trees that provide some much needed shade after a day in the sun.