Emigrant Trail Museum
Part of Donner Memorial State Park, the Emigrant Trail Museum recounts stories of the pioneers who traveled through this area in the mid-1800s, including the infamous Donner Party. The small museum, also known as the park’s Visitor Center, features artifacts about the history of this part of the Sierra Nevada, including the native people and the railroad construction.
With its location right off Interstate 80 just west of Truckee, the museum is an easy stop on your way to or from Lake Tahoe. Pop in for a short visit to browse the informational kiosks, watch an audio-visual presentation, and visit the Pioneer Monument, dedicated to those who crossed the mountains during their journeys west.
Things to know before you go
- Maps, books, and postcards are for sale on-site.
- The museum recommends a 1-hour visit to get the full experience.
- The museum is not recommended for children under 16 years, due to the nature of information about the Donner Party.
How to get there
The museum sits on Donner Pass Road, which you can reach from Interstate 80. It’s a 10-minute drive from Truckee, a 25-minute drive from Tahoe City, and about 90 minutes north of Lake Tahoe.
When to get there
The museum is open daily from late morning to early evening, all year round. If you plan to visit right after the ski season, know that snow can linger on the hiking trails for a while.
Donner Memorial State Park
In addition to the museum, the park features a variety of outdoor activities that highlight the natural beauty of the Sierras, including camping and fishing. Explore the area on one of the hiking trails, or take a swim in Donner Lake. In the winter, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are available.