Cross-country skiing, snow play, pioneer history at Donner Lake Essay

The deep snow at Donner Memorial State Park somehow seems different
from snow at nearby Lake Tahoe resorts–perhaps because it calls to mind
the winter of 1846-47, when 22-foot snows stranded a company of
California-bound pioneers called the Donner Party.

Park visitors, needn’t fear sharing the Donner Party’s
fate, but they can learn about the group’s tragic story. A small
museum, open space for family snow play, and easy nordic ski trails make
this a good stop off Interstate 80, 2 miles west of Truckee on Donner
Pass Road.

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The museum presents the life of indigenous Indians, chronicles
mining in the area, and–through a display of relics and a 25-minute
slide show–explains the ordeal that claimed the lives of 42 of the 89
Donner Party members. Hours are 10 to noon and 1 to 4 daily; admission
is 50 cents for adults, 25 cents for children.

Snow-booted winter visitors can follow a short trail past sites
where some Donner Party families built crude cabins. And nordic skiers
can 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 of
February 9 (you ski 6 miles; difficult), February 24 (3 miles; some
hills), March 17 (6 miles; moderate), April 6 (railroading program), and
April 13 (easy walk). For details, call (916) 587-3841 or write to the
park, Box 9210, Truckee 95737.


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