The deep snow at Donner Memorial State Park somehow seems differentfrom snow at nearby Lake Tahoe resorts–perhaps because it calls to mindthe winter of 1846-47, when 22-foot snows stranded a company ofCalifornia-bound pioneers called the Donner Party.
Park visitors, needn’t fear sharing the Donner Party’sfate, but they can learn about the group’s tragic story. A smallmuseum, open space for family snow play, and easy nordic ski trails makethis a good stop off Interstate 80, 2 miles west of Truckee on DonnerPass Road. The museum presents the life of indigenous Indians, chroniclesmining in the area, and–through a display of relics and a 25-minuteslide show–explains the ordeal that claimed the lives of 42 of the 89Donner Party members.
Hours are 10 to noon and 1 to 4 daily; admissionis 50 cents for adults, 25 cents for children. Snow-booted winter visitors can follow a short trail past siteswhere some Donner Party families built crude cabins. And nordic skierscan take a marked, level 2-1/2-mile loop to within view of Donner Lake.Ranger-led ski tours and programs start at 10 on the mornings ofFebruary 9 (you ski 6 miles; difficult), February 24 (3 miles; somehills), March 17 (6 miles; moderate), April 6 (railroading program), andApril 13 (easy walk). For details, call (916) 587-3841 or write to thepark, Box 9210, Truckee 95737.