“more than just the notorious donner party”
Located in the beautiful Sierra Nevada, Donner Memorial State Park offers the summer vacationer opportunities for camping, picnicking, boating, fishing, water-skiing, and hiking. 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. Donner Memorial State Park Visitor Center - Donner Memorial State Park Visitor Center, located at Donner Memorial State Park, takes about 1 hour to visit. It depicts the history of the area and the people who came into this part of the Sierra, including local Native Americans, the Donner Party, and builders of the transcontinental railroad. Postcards, posters, maps, and books about the human and natural history of the area are for sale in the Visitor Center. Pioneer Monument - Near the Visitor Center is the Pioneer Monument. Dedicated to the pioneers who crossed the Sierra on their way to the west, it stands on the spot where the Schallenberger, and later the Breen, cabin once stood. California Historical Landmark #134 it was completed on June 6th 1918, and sits atop a 22 foot pedestal and faces westward toward Donner Pass. Camping and Day Use - Located at Donner Memorial State Park is a campground of 154 sites and a day-use area along the lake with picnic tables, restrooms (closed for the winter), a beach, fishing, and a lakeside interpretive trail that has 18 panels which discuss the natural and cultural resources in the area. Hiking Trails - The park has over 8 miles (12.9 km) of hiking and over-the-snow trails. Park property in Coldstream Canyon to the south contains the alignment of the primary Emigrant Trail, which leads up to U.S. Forest Service and the Pacific Crest trails beyond the park. Maps are for sale at the Donner Memorial Visitor Center. Fishing - The park has over three miles of frontage on Donner Lake and Donner Creek. Although the fishing is not usually spectacular, the lake has some kokanee and planted trout. A fishing license is required. (Many fishermen prefer to use the park as a base to visit nearby lakes). Public Boat Ramp - The park does not have a boat launching ramp. A public boat launch ramp, operated by the Truckee Donner Recreation & Parks District is available in the northwest corner of Donner Lake. There is a fee charged for boat launching. For information call (530) 582-7720. The lake is open to both power and sail boats.
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Donner Memorial State Park
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