Price & Hours
- Monuments and Memorials, Museums, Parks and Gardens, Recreation Type
- 2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
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The Donner Memorial State Park and Emigrant Trail Museum honor one of the darkest moments in American pioneering. Here, you'll find a great stone pedestal commemorating the Donner Party, the legendary pioneers who fell victim to the harsh Sierra Nevada winter of 1846 to 1847. The party (originally consisting of nearly 90 emigrants) was en route to California when their wagon train encountered a severe snow storm. Only half of the pioneers survived (many by resorting to cannibalism). The stone marker near the Emigrant Trail Museum stands 22 feet tall, marking the immense amount of snowfall from that winter.
For more information about the tragic Donner Party, head to the Emigrant Trail Museum. There you'll also find intricate dioramas detailing the history of railroad development in the Sierra Nevada region. It's a great spot for history buffs, according to recent visitors, though some expressed disappointment in the lack of interactive exhibits.
Recent visitors also suggest you spend some time outdoors. The park is home to numerous hiking and snowshoeing trails (more than 8 miles), or you can swim, boat and fish.
You'll find the Donner Memorial State Park and the Emigrant Trail Museum sitting about 3 miles west of Truckee. The park is open daily from sunrise to sunset; the visitor center is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It costs $10 to park in the parking lot May through September and $5 the rest of the year. Along with the museum and visitor center, there are also camp sites with restrooms and showers, as well as picnic areas. For more information, visit the Donner Memorial State Park website.
- Thing to Do