Visitors are welcome year-round at the Emigrant Trail Museum and at the Pioneer Monument, built to commemorate those who emigrated to California from the east in the mid-1800's. Included in the museum are displays and information about one of the earliest pioneer wagon trains, the Donner Party, forced by circumstances to camp at the east end of Donner Lake in the winter of 1846-47, resulting in human suffering and loss of life.
The park encompasses Scallenberger Ridge to the south of Donner Lake. In and around the park you can see some of the Sierra Nevada's geologic history.
Directions: The park is 100 miles east of Sacramento via Interstate 80, and is within the town of Truckee, just west of downtown on the south side of the freeway.
Seasons/Climate Recommended Clothing: Summer temperatures range from about 75 degrees during the day to the low 40s at night, and winter temperatures average from a high of 40 to a low of 20 degrees.
Emigrant Trail Museum: The Emigrant Trail Museum, 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 at the museum.
Pioneer Monument: Near the museum is the Pioneer Monument and the Donner Party's Murphy family cabin site. Also starting at the museum is a self-guiding nature trail which is a one half mile loop. Nature trail guides are available at the museum and campground entrance station. Staff-led hikes, special feature shows, and campfires start in late June. Hikes, ranging from 1 - 2 hours, start at the museum at 10:00 a.m.
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