Located in the beautiful Sierra Nevada, Donner Memorial State Park offers the summer vacationer opportunities for camping, picnicking, boating, fishing, water-skiing, and hiking. In winter, visitors can cross-country ski and snowshoe on trails and enjoy the season's beauty. Visitors are welcome year-round at the Donner Memorial State Park Visitor Center and at the Pioneer Monument, built to commemorate those who emigrated to California from the east in the mid-1800's. The Visitor Center features compelling new exhibits that tell the stories of the Emigrant Experience, the Donner Party, the Land of the Washoe, Chinese construction of the railroad, and early motoring adventures over Donner Pass.
The park encompasses Schallenberger Ridge to the south of Donner Lake. In and around the park you can see some of the Sierra Nevada's geologic history:
- The granite that rose within the crust of the earth in enormous bubbles, then cooled and hardened, to be exposed by erosion.
- The older sedimentary rocks, transformed by temperature and pressure.
- The Sierra's steep eastern face, created when gigantic upheavals tilted a section of the earth's crust.
- The glaciers that dominated the area a few thousand years ago have left huge boulders and debris that remained when the ice melted.
Fees are required to park year round.