9 votes

Donner Pass

Soda Springs, California USA

  • Independent
  • Pet Friendly
  • Wheelchair
  • Outdoor
  • Wifi
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“where the Donner Party was forced to spend a brutal winter”

Donner Pass is a mountain pass in the northern Sierra Nevada, above Donner Lake about 9 miles (14 km) west of Truckee, California. It has a steep approach from the east and a gradual approach from the west. The pass has been used by the California Trail, First Transcontinental Railroad, Overland Route, Lincoln Highway (later U.S. Route 40 and still later Donner Pass Road), as well as indirectly by Interstate 80. Today the area is home to a thriving recreational community with several alpine lakes and ski resorts (Donner Ski Ranch, Boreal, and Sugar Bowl). The permanent communities in the area include Kingvale and Soda Springs, as well as the larger community below the pass surrounding Donner Lake. To reach California from the East, pioneer emigrants had to get their wagons over the Sierra Nevada mountain range. In 1844 the Stephens-Townsend-Murphy Party followed the Truckee River into the mountains. At the head of what is now called Donner Lake, they found a low notch in the mountains and became the first overland emigrants to use the pass. The pass was named after a later group of California-bound emigrants. In early November 1846 the Donner Party found the route blocked by snow and was forced to spend the winter on the east side of the mountains. Of the 81 emigrants, only 45 survived to reach California; some of them resorted to cannibalism to survive.

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Reviewed by

  • Road Warrior
  • 401 Reviews
  • 287 Helpful
August 26, 2014
Rated 5.0

Beautiful alpine natural surroundings and a place full of history. This used to be the passage for those who were dreaming of getting to the rich valleys of California.

The bad news is that this part of the Yuba Park has been slated to be closed in July, 2012, as part of state budget cuts but there is a well-organized and active opposition movement to preserve this park and keep it open with a public-private partnership of volunteers.

Surely when you visit these beautiful landscapes you will fall in love with this place. Thereafter, spread the word and convince your friends to visit it. May be this way, more people will try to preserve it for the public !

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 4 Reviews
  • 2 Helpful
August 09, 2014
Rated 5.0


1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
December 28, 2014
Rated 5.0


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Donner Pass

Soda Springs, California

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  • Parking
  • Pets Allowed
  • Restrooms
  • Wifi
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Credit Cards Accepted
  • Private Dining
  • Outdoor Seating
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Parking, Dining

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