Donner Memorial Campground Review


We went on a camping trip to Donner Memorial State Park in Truckee, CA. Donner Memorial campground is part of a California State Park. We stayed at site 31.

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The Campsite

Our campsite (site 31) was not the easiest place to park a 20 foot trailer. It wasn’t a bad angle but there were trees close to the parking pad so it was a bit narrow. It worked for us and for our trailer but it would not have worked if we had a slide on our trailer.

The site itself was large though it was not private. We were camping with another group who were in campsite 32. Like our site, campsite 32 was large but not secluded. It also had camp on the wrong side for a trailer and the parking pad was the opposite angle for the direction of traffic. They were able to park it but it took a while, it might be easier to go the opposite way on the road to come in at a better angle.

The two sites (31 & 32) were fine but not great for a group. There is a trail in between the sites that other campers use to get to the bathroom. The sites feel pretty far apart and with people constantly walking through them it wasn’t ideal for a group, but we did still enjoy our stay.

This campground was filled with pine trees. When we were there in June it was bright and sunny but we still had a nice breeze and shade from the trees. There were lots of mosquitos out but overall the weather was great, it definitely had the Tahoe feeling you expect to find.

This was a dry campground so there were no water or electrical hook-ups. Each campground loop does have a threaded water spigot so you can fill up your fresh tank. There also was no dump station but the Chevron station down the street did have a dump available for $15. And we had an okay cell signal through Verizon, it was spotty at camp but pretty easy to walk a few steps and get a better signal.

The Best Campsites

We stayed at the Ridge campground loop this visit but if we return we will try to stay at the Splitrock loop. The Splitrock loop looked to be more private and have more secluded sites.

  • Sites 112 & 113
    • These sites could work well together.
  • Site 116
    • This site feels private and secluded. The camp area is surrounded by bushes and hedges so there is quite a bit of space that isn’t visible from the rest of the campground.
  • Site 118
    • This is another site that feels private and secluded. This is probably the most secluded site we saw in the entire campground. Similar to site 116 the camp area is surrounded by bushes and hedges so the main camp space is not visible from the rest of the campground.
  • Site 130
    • This is a nice pull-through site. The site is large, feels private, and parking would be very simple.
  • Sites 147-150
    • These sites all looked nice and good for trailers. There were lots of trees and shade too. 150 is right on the edge so it would be best if you aren’t in a group because it’s the most private. 148 is on the opposite side of the road and it would work well with site 149. Even though they are across the street they feel close together.

The Activities

There is a lot to do around here. The campground itself is right on Donner Lake. There is a swimming hole called China Cove in the campground. The lake also has boat rentals. And all along the lake there are several great spots, many even with picnic tables, that would be perfect to set up and hang out along the beach. We found a nice little spot for the kids to play and we were able to launch a kayak and there was no one else around.

There is also a museum at the campground. Donner Memorial State Park has the Emigrant Trail Museum which has exhibits about the Donner Party and the Transcontinental Railroad. This was a pretty nice museum, definitely the nicest visitor center we’ve seen at a state park. It’s worth checking out even if you just quickly walk through.

Donner Memorial State Park is also just minutes from downtown Truckee. This makes it easy to go grab a meal or get any supplies you need.

The Dog-Friendly Hiking

There are also lots of trails at Donner Memorial State Park. And, many of those trails are dog-friendly. We went around the China Cove loop and the trail was very nice. It was well maintained and a nice easy hike for our kids and older dog.

This was one of the dog-friendliest state parks we have been to. While not every trail is dog-friendly there were five dog-friendly trails and we had no issues finding dog-friendly activities here.

The Beer

Truckee is filled with breweries. We ended up going to Old Town Tap (which is not a brewery but serves local beer) and Alibi Ale Works. We enjoyed both of them and both breweries allowed us to have dogs outside. Alibi Ale Works also had some delicious soft pretzels that were shaped as mustaches. We got some beer from Fifty Fifty Brewing at the grocery store, which is another Truckee brewery, and it was so good that we want to make sure we go to that brewery on our next visit.

The Recap

Donner Memorial is a fun campground. It has a lake, it has nice trails, it has lots of trees, it even has some history. And it’s a convenient place to explore the town of Truckee. It’s a fantastic Tahoe camping location.

Campground Details:

Donner Memorial State Park
12593 Donner Pass Rd, Truckee, CA 96161

Can reserve online at Reservations open 6 months ahead at 8am PST.

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